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Past SPE Annual Conferences

Ally Christmas

SPE Member since 2015
Member Chapter: Mid-Atlantic


These time-based works explore the conflict between presence and non-presence that hover over a body devoid of life. In Western society, death has become a strange paradox straddling the fluid line between taboo and morbid curiosity, being carefully hidden while simultaneously barraging us at any given moment. How do we consider and respond to the body that has been ravaged by illness, versus the body that has simply slipped away?

My initial interests in this work stemmed from the Victorian practice of posing the dead as though they were only sleeping (“the last sleep” fantasy), where the viewer was allowed a sense of comforting denial. Now, the images have shifted towards an exploration of that exact discomfort we’ve been trying to circumvent. The antiseptic relationship our culture has with the dead creates the need to distort reality by disguising death’s pallor, involving a ritualistic process of pumping the body full of chemicals and transforming it into an imitation of its former self. Without a living agency, the body becomes a hollow vessel; ready for expelling, filling, and masking. What happens during this dislocation - to the body, to the being?

Each piece I have displayed here is an HD video, several of which are meant to be displayed on loops (due to the cyclical and incessant nature of some of the processes I’m examining), and some possess sound elements. The ideal viewing situation for the works is to be surrounded by all of them in a single space, with the audio tracks overlapping, and the viewer becomes engulfed in an experience that is partially grounded in reality but that also ventures into the strange and uncomfortable.







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