Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Beyond the Dark Veil - Victorian Post Mortem Photography

Beyond the Dark Veil – A beautiful, and beautifully macabre, collection of Victorian post-mortem photography
Beyond the Dark Veil: Post Mortem and Mourning Photography from the Thanatos Archiveby The Thanatos ArchiveLast Gasp2014, 200 pages, 7 x 9 x 0.8 inches$21 Buy a copy on Amazon
During the Victorian era, with the popular spread of photography, and before the emergence of a funeral industry, the practice of home post-mortem photography had its heyday. It was common to have your deceased loved ones photographed, not only while lying in state, but sitting in chairs, standing up (with the aid of special corpse stands), even posing with living members of the family. It was as though, given the advent of the photograph, people felt as though they could keep their loved ones alive longer by taking pictures of them. And those pictures weren’t hidden away, to be privately wept over in melancholy remembrance, but prominently displayed in the most public areas of the home.
Beyond the Dark Veil is a handsome new volume from Washington state’s Thanatos Archive, published by Last Gasp (perfect casting there!), exploring this fascinating, now seemingly macabre death practice. This is a gorgeously-produced hardbound book with an embossed, gold-foiled black leather cover and golden-edged pages. Photography comprises the bulk of the content here, but there are also essays from Jack Mord (owner of the Archive), author and death researcher Bess Lovejoy, artist Marion Peck, poet Joanna Roche, historian of photography Joe Smoke, and others.
The book contains 194 images, which include deathbed post-mortem photos, photos of dead children and families, adults, crime and tragedy post-mortems, and even photos of dead pets. The book also serves as a fascinating survey of late 19th century imaging technologies, with hand-colored photographs, albumen prints, ambrotypes, cabinet cards, carte de viste, daguerreotypes, gelatin silver prints, opaltypes, photo postcards, stereoviews, and tintypes, all from the extensive collection of The Thantos Archive.
Peppered throughout are also newspaper clippings, ads for funeral products, images of caskets, hearses, funeral trains, and other tools and ephemera of Victorian death and mourning. There is even a brief glossary of 19th century photography terms. – Gareth BranwynDecember 3, 2014

Victorian times, photography was trending. I don't know why there was such a fascination with photographing the dead in this era, but this is explored in a beautiful new book Beyond the Dark Veil: Post Mortem & Mourning Photography

The newly released publication compiles a beautifully macabre collection of images that range from post death bed portraits, exquisitely staged memento mori, newspaper notices, daguerreotypes,gelatin silver prints and more dating back to 1840. The images were curated from the Thanatos Archive which has been collecting this memorabilia since 2002.

Are you not familiar with this historical trend? Photos like this were featured as a key clue in the Nicole Kidman movie The Others. The Victorians took the culture of mourning very seriously, dictating their every day fashion.

Is it morbid? Is it beautiful? Is it sad or an artistic tribute to ones who were loved? 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steampunk Style at Toronto's Fan Expo

Sorry to have neglected you my loves.  I have been travelling and enjoying a few projects that has taken me away from you for a bit.  I just wanted to show you a few fine specimens of Steampunk style at Toronto's Fan Expo.

Toronto's Fan Expo rivals the numbers of New York and San Diego Comic-con.  Doctor Who's time travelling goodness was the most popular character by far with Star Wars close on its heels.

Outside of the Steampunk cosplay panel I found these stylish citizens roaming about above.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

BARBARA I GONGINI SS15 in Copenhagen

It brought me back to the 1990's.  Barbara I Gongini's fashion show on the first day of Copenhagen Fashion week was reminiscent of Belgian avant-garde designers like Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, or Japanese pioneers like Yohji Yamamoto.

The soundtrack was a deep, electronic pulsing beat.  There were creepy sets of twins who posed/danced in a mirror-like manner.   The clothing itself?  Actually quite wearable under the theatrics.  The super soft leather jackets were flattering.  The asymmetrical or organically draped garments had a sophisticated, comfortable look.  Long shirts, well fitted pants and shorts would look good on any artistic gentleman.

Barbara was born in the Faroe islands and graduated from Denmark’s School of Design at the Institute of Unica Design.  Her  priorities are challenging traditional pattern-making and practicing sustainable production.

You can watch the entire  Barbara I Gongini show online.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Last Rites Gallery

I came across a fantastic Gothic art gallery in the Garment District of New York.   The Last Rites Gallery was decorated with dark charcoal walls, red lit bar counter, a creepy dungeon tattoo parlour.  Wooden furniture resembled a guillotine.  Awesome right?

The artists on display currently include Richard J. Oliver who creates haunting, beautiful paintings of wide-eyed ladies of different cultures.  Stefano Alcantara paints in the classical tradition with a few macabre motifs like black and white doves and skulls.  There were fantastic sculptures with a science fiction or mythological element to them.  Their in-house artists are a curated group whose art has a darker aesthetic, but beautifully detailed.

As thorough as the theme is, they don't take themselves too seriously.  Inside the dungeon tattoo parlour, an episode of South Park was playing, the one with the Goth kids getting angsty with the Twilight kids.

Can't make it to NYC? A lot of the work can be viewed on their website. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Behind Maleficient's Style

Did you see Angelina Jolie as Maleficient this weekend?  She was glorious. While I can't say I loved everything about the movie itself, I was smitten with her and the dark fairy Goddess look she rocked.

  Spanish costume designer Manuel Albarran is known for his fashion looks specializing in leather and corsetry.  He collaborated with legendary Hollywood costumer Sandy Powell, milliner Justin Smith and Rob Goodwin on some of the pieces as well. Creature effects and make-up legend Rick Baker created the Lady Gaga-inspired cheek implants.  

While Maleficient's signature horns from the Disney animated version may have evolved from 15th century headpieces called horned hennins, the film depicted them as more woodland creature.  They looked like a cross between a ram's horns and antelope. Her dramatic wings required layers and layers of hand dyed feathers carefully attached to a bone spine. The horns were leather wrapped around a metal base.

Loving the red lipstick?  Your best shot would be M.A.C.'s Maleficient collaboration which has the deep crimson shade in lipstick, gloss and pencil.  The collection also has those dramatic lashes.  Love it.


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