The Wellcome Collection shows rarely disappoint me, and this show is the best I’ve seen in the galleries. The exhibition reveals the unique collection assembled by Chicago print dealer Richard Harris, curated by Kate Forde. This is an exhibition that exposes the reality of human nature’s fragile place on earth, shown through the intimate struggles of individuals, families and communities. We are playing a game that we are destined to lose. Mourned, celebrated, mocked and revolted. It is the mastery of every race and the pinnacle of every beings life, we are helplessly pulled into a battle of mortality with morbid fascination, or bleak denial. This exhibition wades through this difficult topic with humour, respect and pure curiosity.
I rarely pick up exhibition publication on account that usually they seem like excess baggage and something to bulk up the book shelf. However, this one has charm. Having signed the front, I keep it in pride of place in my toilet, to remind myself every day that I have all the power to pull a sicky if I so fancy.
The small photographs of soldiers laughing whilst having a group photograph taken with a skeleton dressed up in their uniform, was the most revealing selection. The aged sepia toned photograph turned into a hopeless joke on the soldiers. Eventually of course, the joke will be on me and someone will open the cover of the (possibly faded) publication and see my name signed – 2013.
Death: A Self Portrait
Wellcome Collection, London
Until 24 February 2013