Margot Wallard - Natten

I was drawn to Natten by the mysterious image below. At first glance the nude appears as a ghost, a floating orb in a secluded forest. Looking closer at the image you can make out a human figure in the centre. The way the flash renders the trees so sharp and visible, makes the motion blur on the subject seen even more airy and uncanny.

The book is a personal work, one that moves through the artist's feelings of grief after losing her brother. Through images Wallard addresses the relationship between death, life and nature.

Natten is divided into 6 sections, Animals, Ice, insect, landscapes, skeletons and still lifes. These ghostly self portraits are scattered throughout and give the book a sense of vulnerability in a work that without the inclusion of the artist, would feel somewhat detached.

The first section of the book is animals. A 12 page section consisting entirely of dead animals pressed up against the glass of a scanner. The images are close up and detailed, some of them bloody and grim, the majority however look peaceful. The animals are posed sympathetically, the closeness of the image making it hard to look at the animals scientifically. In the next section ethereal and naturous self portraits compliment a series of black and white ice sculptures, Wallards choice of subject matter here constructs an analogy of the sense of coldness experienced through loss. Next a collection of silver insects grace a black background, these images read differently to the animals, the insects expressionless bodies being harder to Anthropomorphize.

Throughout the book two aesthetics exist, the still life: often black and white, in sharp focus and full of detail, consisting of ice, insects, stones, leaves. And environmental portraits and landscapes, vague and blurred, colourful yet muted. One could compare these themes directly to the authors grief. One side showing the cold realities of a dead body, the known facts of death. The other, the mystery of the spirit, the unknown.

The book ends at the beginning of death, life. The ending images show Wallard pregnant laying naked in an environment familiar to earlier in the book, the still lives depict cells, ending the book as if to say that without death there would be no life.

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