Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Philosophical Link between Beauty and Death

Dance with the Angel of Death, Pen and Ink Drawing (8x10) by Ingrid Mida 2010

In preparations for my upcoming show at Loop Gallery, I've been doing research into the philosophical link between beauty and death. Contemporary French philosopher Julia Kristeva asked the question of "whether beauty and death are facets of the same experience or perennial opposites" in her book Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia (translated by Leon S. Roudiez and published by Columbia University Press, New York, 1989).

Using Sigmund Freud's essay about the links between grief, transience and beauty as her starting point, Kristeva writes:

"Is beauty inseparable from the ephemeral and hence from mourning? Or else is the beautiful object the one that tirelessly returns following destruction and wars in order to bear witness that there is survival after death?

Kristeva concludes that "beauty represents an artificial, imaginary conquering of death that allows life to continue." 

For me, beauty and death are on the same continuum. When I create something beautiful, I feel as if I've cheated death. But in the world of contemporary art, beauty is not enough. For my upcoming show, I've layered in meaning with references to death in the form of roses (a metaphor for the bloom and decay of human life), clocks (a metaphor for the finite quality of life), and veils (a marker of life's significant passages including weddings and funerals).