Miha Colner & Jasna Jernejšek: Violence, Death and Decay

The question that arises when we are looking at Bertok’s post-mortem photographs is what is it that we are actually looking at. To say that it is dead body/corpse is to fall short of the social implication and the social dimension of the photograph. By focusing on the dead body/corpse as a motif Bertok questions the socially (un)acceptable notions surrounding the meanings and representations of death; of what is allowed, decent and appropriate to be observed, and how. In this sense, Bertok is similar to other contemporary photographers who likewise depict death and the dead/dying body such as Jeffrey Silverthorne, Rudolf Schäfer, Andres Serrano, Joel-Peter Witkin. The artist enables his audience to see not only what is concealed, but considering one’s own death, also what is impossible. Graphic detail of faces and other frozen body parts of elderly people, partly showing signs of decomposition and decay, as in the series Post Mortem (2007-2010); a dead baby floating in formaldehyde in Red (2009), a series that reminds of a cabinet of curiosities; or bodies burning while being cremated in the series Visitors (2004-2010).

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