Naked As We Came

“She says wake up, it’s no use pretending
I’ll keep stealing, breathing her
Birds are leaving over autumn’s ending
One of us will die inside these arms

Eyes wide open
Naked as we came
One will spread our
Ashes round the yard

She says if I leave before you darling
Don’t you waste me in the ground
I lay smiling like our sleeping children
One of us will die inside these arms

Eyes wide open
Naked as we came
One will spread our
Ashes round the yard”

From “Naked As We Came” by Iron & Wine

I hope that you are not too offended by the above picture.  In truth, I don’t think the photo does justice to this piece by Ron Mueck.  I first saw this at the Saatchi Gallery in London back in 2003.  It’s entitled “Dead Dad” and is an incredibly life-like model of the artist’s father.  What the photo fails to capture is the fact that the model is only 102 cm long.  The attention to detail, to every little body hair is captivating.  I genuinely expected this little person to jump up from the display at any moment as if it had only been playing dead.

In Ron Mueck’s explanation of this piece, he wrote of how when he saw his dead Dad’s body he was instantly struck by how his Dad wasn’t there.  The body before his, tear stained, eyes was merely a shell.  His Dad had left and the soul and spirit had departed.

I’m proud of the fact that the company I work for sponsored Ron Mueck’s exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh back in 2006.  The figures on display caught the imagination of thousands of visitors.  The very fact that the scale was wrong (they are either huge or minute) threw people and made them confront aspects of the human condition.  

Art has the power to address the issues we consider taboo or don’t discuss in our everyday conversation.  It has the power to touch, inspire, provoke and shock.  It has the power to disarm.  The conversations I had at a private viewing one evening with clients’ of the firm were more genuine and scratched much deeper below the surface than many of the bland pleasantries that too often fill our, seemingly endless, numbered days. 

I really appreciate “Dead Dad”, although upon reading the plaque I could feel a lump in my throat and a sting in my eyes.  It scares me to think that I may have to face such a confrontation of my own one day.  It also makes me squirm to think that, if timings take their natural course, my daughter may one day have to do the same to me.  Maybe these little posts and musings on this blog will convey something of the thoughts I held, the priorities I had and the passions that drove me…



7 Responses to “Naked As We Came”

  1. 1 brunettekoala October 18, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    This kind of reminds me of those verses (are they in Job?) naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will be when I die type idea (did I make that up, where is my bible when I need it?!?!)

    Death is one of those things we just don’t like talking about. When I come to think about it, we don’t much like talking about birth either. I mean we talk about pregnancy, we talk about babies, but do we talk about birth?

    When we think of life and death we seem talk only with romantic views of it all, is it to make the whole thing less real?

  2. 2 thestatethatiamin October 19, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Yeah, Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away: may the name of the Lord be praised”.

    Hugely difficult words to swallow and I guess we address it in church through songs like “Blessed Be The Name of The Lord”. It concerns me that churches the world over have congregations full of people singing these words, seemingly meaningfully, but are we really in tune with what we are saying when we do so? I find that song so much more meaningful now remembering how hard it was to sing (if even I dared) in the weeks and months following little Olivia’s tragic death last year.

    I guess my posts on my blog of late are trying to explore the notion that art, film and music helps us address the big issues we shy from in our day to day conversations and thoughts. I think it is helpful to explore these things and the theme will continue in the next batch of posts…although culture, expression and connection will be touched upon first along with the importance of John Peel…

  3. 3 exactscience October 21, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    “When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader.” Anne Lamott

    That to me is what art is all about albeit the Ms Lamott is writing about writing.

    Just to touch on John Peel, cause you mention him. In referring to Teenage Kicks he said that he didn’t think there was anything you could add or take away to make it better. I think that is the crux of all great art.

  4. 4 thestatethatiamin October 21, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Thanks for the comments exactscience. That Anne Lamott quote is not one I’ve come across before, but is so true. As for John Peel and Teenage Kicks, funnily enough I was listening to The Undertones today and have drafted a post about that very song…coming to a blog you know where very soon…hope you’re doing better than on Sunday. Peace.

  5. 5 brunettekoala October 21, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Looking forward to that post!!

  6. 6 echostains November 7, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Hi, I too saw Dead Dad a few years ago, also Guther Von Hagens Body Worlds. Though both vastly physically different in the way the art is expressed. I was indeed struck by the same thought as Mueck: the thought I had when I lost my own Father and experienced the emptiness and the incredulity that he had gone and I was looking only at his shell. I viewed the realisation of this as Life affirming: that the body is indeed a shell and that the spark within us (life) is miraculous and should be celebrated. Mueck’s tribute to his late father is moving and goes beyond the sculpture, – it is everything he carries from his father, including his memories. The scukpture occupies a physical space: the man, his father an internal one.
    Kind Regards

  1. 1 He is not here « Bring on the joy Trackback on October 20, 2008 at 8:39 am

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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