Archive for August, 2010


Monsters are real…

 I have taken relevent quotes and sections of articles i found on the net that relate to my work mainly that of serial killers.

“…Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King

‘Where does this urge come from, and why is so powerful? If we all experienced this urge, would we be able to resist?’

‘Is it genetic, hormonal, biological, or cultural conditioning? Do serial killers have any control over their desires? We all experience rage and inappropriate sexual instincts, yet we have some sort of internal cage that keeps our inner monsters locked up. Call it morality or social programming; these internal blockades have long since been trampled down in the psychopathic killer. Not only have they let loose the monster within, they are virtual slaves to its beastly appetites. What sets them apart?’ –

“There’s a parallel between art and murder,” he said. “They are both a quest for aestheticism, and they both give me strange godlike feelings. Art is creation and murder is annihilation. I have mastered both these tools.” He thought this was the reason why so many other killers turn to art during incarceration: The urge to create compensates for the urge to destroy. “Creation and destruction delivered by the same hands.” – Nicolas Claux via

‘Many people who see such pieces as part of an art exhibit call it tasteless, sensationalistic, obscene, and exploitive. They say it poisons the memory of the victims and that it’s a sign of a culture in spiritual decline. “What people have found so reprehensible about art produced by serial killers,” says Harold Schechter, “is not the subject matter itself What inspires such widespread disgust is the mere notion that convicted lustkillers are allowed to be treated like minor celebrities and enjoy the ego gratification of having their work put on display.” Be that as it may, Schechter himself points out that collecting items that killers have touched or owned has a sort of talisman effect. From John Dillinger’s blood to dirt from Ed Gein’s grave to Ted Bundy’s Volkswagon, there will always be an audience for items associated with violent death, and that includes artifacts created by the killers themselves.’ – Trutv

‘For those offenders who engage in this activity, art can serve many purposes, such as:

  • an expression of anger
  • a need to relive the violence
  • a continued attack on society
  • a way to relieve or externalize inner conflicts
  • a way to explore feelings that can’t be easily verbalize
  • a joke against society—making money off the same victims that they enjoyed killing
  • shock value
  • exploration of other forms of personal expression
  • enjoyment or the easing of boredom
  • redemption/spiritual exercise

Lustmord, a book about the writings of lust killers, begins with a quote from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to the effect that while people may find poems and short stories by murderers reprehensible, especially if those expressions are self-serving excuses or just a way to keep the violence alive, one ought not to limit what may be regarded as art.’

‘In Human, All Too Human, Nietzsche says, “One is limiting art much too severely when one demands that only the composed soul, suspended in moral balance, may express itself there. …there is in music and poetry the art of the ugly soul…and in achieving art’s mightiest efforts—breaking souls, moving stones, and humanizing animals—perhaps that very art has been most successful.”

‘Are Serial Killers Truly the 20th Century Bogeymen?

Is it our modern times that creates them, or have they been in operation before we classified them as a phenomenon? Although the term “serial killer” was coined in 1971, early fables of human/monsters reveals that there has always been danger in straying too far, or in accepting the help of strangers. The carnivorous characters in Grimm’s Fairy tales become vivid metaphors of human bloodlust. Gruesome stories of Bluebeards and their bloody chambers, big bad wolves, trolls under the bridge and witches in the forest, all of whom make meals out of unsuspecting innocents, remind us of our contemporary monsters. These cautionary tales may represent an early, pre-psychological way of understanding the sadistic side of human nature.’ –


the body in contemporary art in relation to Ed Gein Study-part I

I have been reading a book brought from the Welcome collection bookshop whilst visiting the ‘Skin’ exhibition last month.
Its written by Sally O’Reilly and talks about the human figure represented in art today. Looking at various artists reason why the figure is so integral in their artworks, and how conceptually the representation of a figure has is seen changed in modern art and progressed from that of the traditional.

I have read the various chapters relating to the theory’s to my own work that of the body of Ed Gein’s final victim represented by myself from a small crime scene jpeg photo.

In the opening of the book O’Reilly talks of how we view the human body in todays art world; ‘The boundary between the human and the world at large is blurred and shifting and often difficult to identify. It is not simply the physical barrier of the skin, since this world overlook both the psychological sphere that exists beyond our basic corporal boundaries and the reciprocal relationships between self and context’

The image of the hollow body in the photograph and indeed my painting is of a deceased woman. ‘Before the Renaissance the exploration of human insides were taboo; then following scientific revolution and the establishment of empirical scientific methods, flayed corpses, anatomical drawing and models based on autopsy and dissection became acceptable’.
Science and art merge, capturing someones likeness in life and now death. recording before photographs the technical process of what happens to us when we die. Capturing someones likeness is capturing a moment in time, Recording forever the stage in time that the person looked like before they grow old, die and decay.
I have presented this body as an ‘object’ a shell of something that was once living and now no longer exists within it. Atheists and people who believe in life after death will argue the importance of our earthly bodies casings for our soul, to then decent into heaven when we die. The Latin term for an object, something that reminds us of our own mortality ‘memento mori’ which literally means ‘remember that we all must die’.

The brutal massacre of Gein has made it into the American history books and into the outside world through media and penetrating some of the most terrifying horror films. this has propelled Gein into the realms of Hollywood and in a way into the world of celebrity. Gein now dead, in effect through these acts of violence will himself live on. Many serial killers are known to admit to their killings before they have been discovered due to craving the celebrity status, with these painting studies, i now too contribute to the Gein legacy spreading further his Infamous trail of horror.

i feel the art world is its own celebrity breeding ground, creating art for the aim to seek fame and fortune. Artists like Damien Hurst who use dead bodies (although animal)  i see some similarities to Geins creations, producing ‘art’ to be admired and adored and understood from being an outsider away from mainstream humdrum of normality.

Gein playing in the female ‘body suit’ i imagine being like a little girl playing with dolls, a small child would dress it up and through play understand the somewhat stereotypical role of a woman, Gein i feel took this concept into the morbidly extreme. The repulsion and curiosity of women drove him to explore the opposite sex, as a girl playing with their dolls would learn about their gender role  The transference of Gein’s troubled upbringing and understanding of women misdirected into a confusion of his own and could be the reason behind the years of murders.
this article looks at the parents influence to a child as he/she discovers his/her own gender role. The murder of Bernice Warden, was one of many outlets and self discovery of his own sexuality and gender. The act of wearing the skin of a woman Gein could begin through, learn through play technique, used in young children, to deal with his gender confusion. Many people with mental health conditions find solace in their suffering through art and art therapy, maybe Gein also found creating his furniture and other artifacts comforting in a big empty house. I will continue to talk about art therapy and my ideas of Gein using murder as media to expel some of his demons in the next blog entry.

Listning to – the Misfits

Reading- The Body in Contemporary art-Sally O\’Reilly


Nick the stripper

When i paint the crime scenes i like them to look saturated as this video of Nick Caves ‘The birthday party’ group. I love the lo-fi, low quality of these super 8 post- punk band videos. I think maybe i would like to paint some of these image stills.


Final study of Ed Gein – ‘Playsuit’

Final image of Painting. Study of Ed Gein victim crime scene-number II

Acrylic, Gesso, Latex and licorice

Listening to – Die so Fluid/Devil sold his soul

Reading – the body in comtemporary art

Flickr Photos

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August 2010
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