The Next Place: Journeys into the Afterlife
… Presumably, such a hotch-potch is meant to address the worry that visitors to the Castle Museum might not have enough to look at if only one exhibition is properly presented at a time. A fear of frugality perhaps. But those who programme these galleries need to be aware that cramped and compromised exhibitions which have to fight for attention represent the flip side of exhibitions that are intimidatingly Spartan.
Forbes’s photographs asset out to explore ‘the different cultural representations of, and attitudes towards death.’ The photographs, primarily of graveyards and the ways in which head stones are permanently or temporarily adorned, were taken in countries as diverse as France, Mexico and Senegal. In this gallery space, Forbes has his work cut out for him because his photographs, lacking the dramatic element, are forced to compete with the visually more arresting coffins of Paa Joe. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? It is not often that gallery-goers have to avoid bumping into full-size coffins in the shapes of Alitalia jumbo jets, training shoes, cathedrals, oil drums and a veritable Noah’s Ark of African and Asian animals…
…The more successful of his photographs also give us the option of looking at decorated graves as mini installations. After all, if an art installation is something that makes creative use of (and references) the formal environment in which it is located, how else could we describe these adorned and embellished graves? The base of the headstone marking the death and burial of a five day-old child is covered with toys, some of which the baby may have played with, whilst others may have been bought subsequently to the child’s death, as a sad and desperate gesture to what might have been. As with other public sculpture, we might ask ourselves questions such as how long will these artefacts remain in place? How will the elements, over a period of time, impact on the baby’s gathered possessions?
The above extracts are from an exhibition review, "The Next Place: Journeys Into the Afterlife" by Eddie Chambers that appeared in Art Monthly, London, Number 248, July-August 2001: 49-50