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"Vertebrata" (2011) by Marc De La Cunha Lopes

If life were to go extinct on our planet, what would the aftermath look like?

One can image that the beautifully bizarre photo series Vertebrata, by post-production wizard Marc De La Cunha Lopes, provides an interpretation. Its title referring to the group of animals that have a spine, the images lead us into a world of lonely, undefined skeletons inhabiting abandoned human settings. The surprisingly softly toned and often bright mood of the lighting enhances both the absurdity and the melancholy of this death-filled realm. We find that almost a reversal has taken place, like we’re witnessing a warped anthropomorphic cartoon.

In death, Beast has become man and with that it mimics our longing and boredom. For we find our characters mostly waiting for something to happen, an activity that fills perhaps the largest chunk of our waking lives. Do they anticipate some future salvation that will always come too late, with a satire that combines both smile and tear? On the one hand the images can be looked at as whimsical experiment, on the other as a deepfelt requiem. Placing these remnants of creatures gone in places that we could perfectly find ourselves tomorrow, does really hit home. In death these beings are given the boon of usurping us at the top of the food chain, only to mimic the banality and sadness that pervades our existence. Whatever interpretation you place on the images, one can’t deny the craftsmanship and detail the artist lovingly placed in his compositions and settings. Take special note of the flowery wallpaper, the reflective desks and scratchy sofas. The skeletons themselves are a biological marvel, every joint and rib a triumph. The question is, does art like this make us reflect on the current state of the world, where species are lost by the thousands to humanity’s selfish disregard for any life but its own? And if the end finally does come, will it be with a similar gentleness as shown in these images? Perhaps T.S. Elliot’s words will finally do become prophecy: “This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper…

"Vertebrata" (2011) by Marc De La Cunha Lopes


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