Keith Arnatt, Self-Burial. 1969.

Keith Arnatt, Self-Burial (Television Interference Project). 1969.

Keith Arnatt, Self-Burial (Television Interference Project). 1969.

Keith Arnatt’s “Self-Burial” photography project was described as “the disappearance of the artist,” yet after it aired on television, he was impressed with the various interpretations it can hold for viewers. We recognize that it is the disappearance of the artist in the earth, and can also be considered the disappearance of creativity – in creativity. What are the questions it poses about disappearance and death, creativity and nature? Arnatt is quoted as saying, “I tended, around ‘67, to prefer art to be not too distinguishable from its setting and wished to introduce as little “foreign matter” as possible into a chosen location. This has always been an important consideration for me.”

Mary Shannon Johnstone, Landfill Dogs. 2013.

Mary Shannon Johnstone, Mistletoe. 2012. Part of the Landfill Dogs project (2013).

Mary Shannon Johnstone, Mistletoe. © 2012. Part of the Landfill Dogs project (2013). With artist’s permission.

Photographer Mary Shannon Johnstone wrote: “These are not just cute pictures of dogs. These are dogs who have been homeless for at least two weeks, and now face euthanasia if they do not find a home. Each week I bring one dog from the county animal shelter and photograph him/her at the local landfill.

The landfill site is used for two reasons. First, this is where the dogs will end up if they do not find a home. Their bodies will be buried deep in the landfill among our trash. These photographs offer the last opportunity for the dogs to find homes.

The second reason for the landfill location is because the county animal shelter falls under the same management as the landfill. This government structure reflects a societal value: homeless cats and dogs are just another waste stream. However, this landscape offers a metaphor of hope. It is a place of trash that has been transformed into a place of beauty. I hope the viewer also sees the beauty in these homeless, unloved creatures.”

See our interview with Johnstone here.

Oliver Luckert, Memories.


Oliver Luckert, Memories. © Oliver Luckert.

One of the most poignant photographs, clearly depicting one’s sense of loss. We exist in the world, yet everywhere we may look or wander, we are reminded of the times shared with our beloved companions (or we are longing for them to be with us, as they had been before). Oliver Luckert’s photos have inspired other photographers and artists, and his images can be found on his website.

updated February 26, 2019

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