featuring Death March by Hugo Crosthwaite,
a site specific mural commissioned by Richard Harris
28 January - 8 July 2012
Curated by Lucas Antony Cowan & Debra L. Purden,
Visual Arts Department of the Chicago Office of Tourism & Culture
Chicago Cultural Center, Illinois, USA
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Death March: Artist Statement
This work is a death march in the tradition of funerary marches where family, friends and general onlookers follow the deceased to their final resting place. At first glance, the drawing has the appearance of a festive occasion. There is a mass of characters, clumped together in groups, supporting and carrying effigies of death; puppets and floats that resemble a South American Carnival or a Mexican Day of the Dead procession. But with closer examination, these groups are a grotesque ensemble of human and monstrous figures that inflict death upon one another through war, rape, murder and disease. There is dark humor and contemplation over the concept of an afterlife, as all the characters march forward into what is an inevitable end.

The drawing references such works as Peter Bruegel’s “Triumph of Death”, engravings by Jose Guadalupe Posada of the Mexican Revolution and James Ensor’s, “Skeletons Fighting for the Body of a Hanged Man”.

Death March has a dual narrative layer. The bottom procession is the reality of death, suffering, turmoil and physical mortality. It also reflects on the nature of mourning and the fear of an existential void after death. The top, mystical and ethereal, is composed of puppets and death effigies. It presents the more abstract notion of death, the spiritual idea of an afterlife and the hope of reuniting with the dead.
Death March by Hugo Crosthwaite

Death March, detail, 2010-11
graphite, charcoal, gesso, acrylic paint & fixative on Strathmore museum board
30 panels, 300 x 132 inches (762 x 335.3 cm)