Photos of honeycomb and bees have been layered into a rectangular repeating background.

DANIEL CHRISTMANN: “MERTENSIA”

The background is a purple stained slide-image of neurons. The focus of the image is a pencil drawing of a person leaning back, visible from the neck up. The skin has been peeled back to show the muscles of the neck and face. Flowers bloom out of the corpse and an insect rests on its lips. Behind the head, the image of a neolithic hunt blossoms in an echo of a halo.

Artists’ Note: 

The man who the collage focuses on is from a medical text called The Pernkopf Topographic Anatomy of Man. It contains some of the most detailed, hand rendered illustrations of the human body ever made. Pernkopf was a Nazi doctor. This means that, in all probability, the man was either Jewish, gay, disabled, Roma, or any of the many other people groups that the Nazis deemed undesirable. What I’m trying to get at is that he was probably murdered. 

The dynamic of disability has a lot to do with the idea that there are people in this world who, for one reason or another, are undesirable. We don’t usually go to the extreme that the Nazis did, but there are people in this world who won’t let their children get vaccines because they are afraid it will turn them autistic, which for them is apparently something worse than death. Hepatitis? Nah, at least they’ll be normal and diseased, like the rest of us. The interior of this undesirable, with flowers blooming out of him, paintings of an ancient hunt by Neolithic man splayed out next to a swirling cluster of neon neurons, was a fitting rebuttal. The piece references iconography, with its floating saints, and is drenched in a feeling of heavy symbolism of those things that are wild and free in each of us. It’s the portrait of a human, none of whom are undesirable.