The visage of an animated skeleton is an omnipresent theme in the cultural sphere of horror and the Gothic, but scant little attention has been given to this powerful symbol. My research blends literary studies, art history, archaeology, and thanatology to examine how the skeleton operates as a signifier throughout Western literary, visual, and material culture, originating during Medieval Christendom as a moralistic reminder of the afterlife and subsequently becoming a multi-faceted symbol for memorializing grief, disease and community health, class struggles, and ultimately humanity's own relationship with the vastness of time.
I write as a participant, as an artist and as a member of the local community. By adopting artistic research methods, and specifically, by making work in the place where I live, which could be considered a form of auto-ethnographic artistic research, the research analyses social artistic processes from the perspective of the artist, adding to debates around what social arts practice is, and what its limits are in its original social context and within the gallery and documentary systems of dissemination.
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