June 27, 2021

Are artistic representations (or self-representations) consisting of violent and graphic imagery impactful, beyond mere shock value?

Brandon Lavan

Plasticine, spray paint and expanding foam in paint sheetsBody Bags, 2020

This piece depicts my body – dismembered in its entirety. It is swollen, bruised, butchered, mutilated and dehumanised in most conceivable ways. Hoisted up in transparent body-bags for all to see. The small tears on the bags signify the last traces of an attempt to escape before failing, with the fingers trying to rip through. The pinstripe creases on each bag symbolise prison bars which encapsulate the swollen and beaten visage below. This state of affairs is intended as a representation of my plummeting mental state. These acts of violence, perpetuated on myself by myself – represent the culmination of a tumultuous and depressing struggle with self-love and self-hate. The bags are deliberately visible as a means of holding the sources of my pain – society at large and its oppressive systems – to account. A sequence of events beginning with suspicion, fear, accusation, remorse and lastly, (self) retribution. The composition of this imagery – deliberately violent, graphic and grotesque in nature – is intended to stimulate a response in the viewer and to perhaps categorise the types of response. Will viewers attempt to decipher hidden meanings? Or will they simply admire (or be disgusted by) its grotesque nature.