Morbidity & Mortality

Designed to be murdered by your dog or cat, pet toys appear as dead bodies in these crime scene photographs. Morbidity & Mortality responds to the current popular fascination with cinematic murder and forensics. Contemporary films and CSI-style television programs reveal an obsession with corpses—specifically, artfully composed images of the deceased. While death and Memento Mori are perennial motifs in art, contemporary US culture is particularly awash in carefully arranged and creatively “off’d” stiffs. The artist examining this trend faces the challenge of depicting, yet not reproducing, this violent imagery. In these staged photographs of recently discovered victims, the body is that of a “dead” pet toy: the small furry object lying on the floor, for example, is a dismembered bird’s head. There is a perverse quality to toys that resemble real animals—already deceased or clearly marked for death. Morbidity & Mortality critiques contemporary tableaus of aestheticized violence by presenting photographs that are simultaneously disturbing and whimsical.

Morbidity & Mortality, 2012-14 © Jeanette May

The photographs in this series are captured digitally and presented as archival pigment prints in editions of 10. Print sizes include 24 x 36” and 12 x 18".