Neal Auch’s Unsettling Portraits of The Dead

Neal Auch is a photographer based in Ontario, Canada. As you will soon find out, his works focus mostly on “arrangements of dead animal parts”.

A still life arrangement of cow foot, dead flowers, chicken feet, pig intestines, vintage tea kettle, and duck gizzards.

As creepy as this might sound when you articulate these words out loud, his imagery has something more to it – both in beauty and meaning.

Neal started it all with the conception that the Little House on the Prairie is a bunch of horseshit. Literally. The “bucolic image of a life on a farm […] is a fantasy that only exists in children’s books and processed food packages”, he explains. The photographer’s interest shown for the ethics of eating animals – a commodification of suffering – almost automatically transforms his death portraiture in a manifesto against contemporary butcheries.

The artist feels like is almost his duty to reveal the cruelty and torture behind your medium-rare steak. And as far as I know, he does it with both grace and vigor. Neal Auch’s photography is a hand-picked atlas of gorgeously gross macros of intestines and teeth, dead-eyes and skin. He uses his camera lens with the same precision a surgeon uses its scalpel (Movie recommendation: Taxidermia, 2018).

Horror photography portrait of genderqueer model’s penis next to a severed pig’s head.

An extreme close-up view of the eye of a dead pig. The skin has been removed to reveal the flesh beneath.

“I have explored everything through still life and portraiture work featuring arrangements of dead animals, in addition to close-up abstract work featuring organ meats”. He recently started working on human skeletons, in a process the photographer likes to call “portraiture of the dead”.

His latest project, Empire of Death, was entirely shot in The Catacombs of Paris. What others might consider being ugly or transgressive, the artist considers a more romantic perspective. He doesn’t see death, but “a life extinguished”.

Three skulls in the Catacombs of Paris.

In his opinion, the photographs he takes show that even in death and decay, there’s still a hint of the presence of life.

All Photo Credits: Neal Auch

Follow Neal on Instagram | Facebook

This article was originally published in Cultartes Magazine #4 – “Dreams and Nightmares”. Get your copy in print here.

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Romanian self-taught writer, based in Cyprus, interested in contemporary art, unconventional culture and gonzo journalism. Writing for almost a decade, he is agnostic, supports a censorship-free society and reads way less than he wants.

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