The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep

The Lytlewode Press | Stoke-on-Trent, UK 


ISBN 1905611951, 9781905611959

Concertina of inkjet prints on enhanced matte, housed in bespoke clamshell box. Limited edition of 10 copies.

15.2 cm x 425 cm
Box 17.5 cm x 12cm x 3.4 cm

The Big Sleep examines Western European death culture across three locations: Berlin, Paris and Arles. Focusing on three cemeteries, the set of images illustrates aesthetic nuances and differences in the design of gravestones. This series considers gravestones as a posthumous portrait, as a final portrait that is made at the end of a person’s life. This is the last vestige that the living construct to commemorate the dead.

Thirteen sepulchres appear in the series, thirteen being of biblical significance and also traditionally considered an unlucky number in superstitious mythology. Each sepulchre image is married to its spiritual counterpart to form a diptych, the real world that we know, and the proposed unknown of the spiritual world, a thin veil between this world and the next. The diptychs are punctuated with details from the three cemeteries in order to give the viewer a visual break and pause for thought, whilst providing greater context of the thirteen sets of images.

The photomontage images consist of photographs taken at each site, layered with found photographs being French 19th Century post-mortem cartes des visite. The viewer is at first unsure whether the ghostly subject is sleeping or departed, allowing the viewer to consider the ties between the living world and the spiritual. A subject oft examined in literature where ‘sleep is like a temporary death’ (Dylan, 2006). Post- mortem images were popular in the 19th Century, as often the subjects did not have a photograph taken of them while they were alive. Here a last photographic portrait is coupled with a final gravestone portrait.

Presented as an artist’s book, the concertina format allows the viewer to engage with each diptych in isolation, or to fold out the publication to view all images en masse.

Dylan, B 2006, Working Man’s Blues #2, Modern Times, Columbia Records, New York City, NY.

Using Format