beyond cultural appropriation

it has to happen: the appreciation for an object of art transcends the cultural appropriation that has come before the object is first seen. in this case, a tomb’s artwork for the Famiglia Appiani at Staglieno (in Genova) has become famous through the use of a photograph by French photographer Bernard Pierre Wolff in Joy Division‘s second album Closer. like the point of view expressed in The Vanity of Grief, this particular work, at first glance, has to overcome the Vanity of Grief context, and that of the history for a beloved album. yet, the power of this artwork is that it quickly makes those two contexts vanish: there is so much immersion into this work’s layers, that preconceptions were vanished ever so quickly. apparent on the first visit (in May), and fully obvious on a recent second visit, is the many ways that, despite its testament to a Christian presentation, the work catapults away from this context and works from any point of view. for example, it is simple to ignore the two auras, and consider the four women as the same person in stages of grief: disbelief, acceptance, sorrow, and sufferance— for example. personally, the appreciation of an artwork has to transcend the artist’s (or customer’s) intent, and in this case, beyond the cultural appropriation and/or the modern view of elaborate tombstones. this one, personally, is the magnum opus of such work.


via Instagram: A.Touching.Display


B.P. Wolff’s obituary [ NYTimes ]
Vanity of Grief account on Instagram [ A Touching Display ]

2 Comments Add yours

  1. greg says:

    Aside from the occasional halo, I don’t really see anything here that’s uniquely Christian. I’m not sure Christian expressions of grief are all that distinguishable from Muslim grief or Jewish grief. In fact, the way the body is laid out–openly, on a slab–this could as easily be seen as a Tibetan sky burial or Zoroastrians laying out a body in a dokhma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. singlyphoto says:

      ah, thanks for that info.
      I guess I am pre-disposed by my catholic upbringing/surroundings, and that of the cemetery itself— in that these cemeteries are segregated by religion. though funny that, in talking about the appropriation by the album cover and cultural impact of it, I was not able to think of another point of view, such as that of the record, which is thematically cohesive.

      (if it is to mimic something of the time of Christ, then it would indeed be something very Jewish— but I didn’t think of that one either!)


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