In our often-isolating society, joining others to mourn for a stranger helps
people feel connected, part of a larger whole and a common cause.
Cavanagh visualises the contemporary phenomena of ‘event grief’ in his reconstruction of a curb side memorial – fake flowers, votive candles, photographs, messages, and toys. It evokes the largest public expression of grief for a single death in history that of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Twenty years later well-wishers continue to mark the anniversary of her accidental death by placing masses of cellophane wrapped bouquets at the gates of Buckingham and Kensington Palaces.
The laying of flowers and wreaths on individual graves and public monuments can be traced back to the civic crowns of Ancient Rome and Greece. Circular braids of verdant foliage were bestowed on war heroes, their shape representing the continuum of life as it passes into immortality.
Plant adorning human, as a signify of bravery and recognition of meritorious service, has evolved to commemoration. With the murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne in 2012, and Eurydice Dixon and Aila Maasarwe more recently, social media has activated public memorialization. The flowers and votives left at the sites of their trauma reflect both the innocence of the victims and an underlying collective consciousness that asserts human rights.
Kittens and sunsets 2016
Installation: plastic flowers, photographs, moving image, monitor, cards, candles, candle holders and ornaments
Installation view courtesy of ACP and Michael Waite
About the Artist
Steven Cavanagh is a Sydney-based artist, curator and educator who works with Photomedia and more recently, installation and performance. His art practice explores the physical and psychological landscape of masculine identity, vulnerability and loss. His work is often politically provocative and personal with references to lived experience.
Steven completed a BFA at the National Art School where he majored in Photography in 2003 and Fine Art Hons in Photography in 2004. He completed an MFA in Photography in 2010. He is a Photomedia lecturer with the National Art School and the Australian Centre for Photography where he is also an active board member. Steven has also recently been hired by Arts OutWest as their Communications Officer and divides his time between Sydney, Bathurst and Hill End.