The Closer We are to Death the More We Feel Alive is an art exhibit featured at the student-run festival Art Matters. The exhibition is a collection of multidisciplinary artworks that expose the tension between the dead and the alive—the grotesque and the beautiful.

At first, the gallery is a chaotic array of random objects, but upon closer inspection, the pieces connect thematically.

The dimmed lights of the gallery and the abrupt sound of objects falling around you add to an overall feeling of discomfort in the space.

As one of the main focuses of the show, a video of a decomposing cake entitled “Piece of Me”—created by Jessica Beaulieu—is projected on a large screen in the middle of the room.

“It is a reflection on getting old, feel[ing] the time passing by, gaining new experiences but also losing faculties [and] memories,” said Beaulieu.
As the video progresses, the cake becomes uneatable, the candle wax melts and the soundtrack mimics something reminiscent of death.

Mathieu Ball and his work “Dead Pigeons in Wood Shadow Boxes” displays several dead pigeons framed in wood as a reminder that nothing lasts forever.

Vincent G. Rousseau’s “When You Wish Upon a Smoke” is a collaborative sculptural piece of Mickey Mouse made entirely out of cigarette butts.
“After the Frost,” a piece by Jessica Hebert, is a collection of photographs taken during winter that display a variety of frosty plants in black and white.

The piece plays with the strange relationship one has to the natural world during winter.

As part of the exposition, there is an empty room with white canvases and black and white paint available to the public. Viewers are free to go into the room and leave a mark on the walls, creating a collaborative abstract painting.

Although each artwork conveys different ideas of the perished in a way that is almost uncanny, they present a visual burial ground that can be immortalized through art.

As a result, we have a product that celebrates life through decadence; with each artist managing to capture death as an inevitable part of life.

The Closer We are to Death the More We Feel Alive / Eastern Bloc / 7240 Clark Ave. / Runs until March 19 / FREE

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 25, published March 8, 2011.