Implicated is an exhibition by six artists in which they seek to investigate the boundaries of privacy. As investigations go, this rather ephemeral and the exhibits are quite difficult to understand. But one of the exhibits, by Billy Ward, a London based Englishman with a Fine Arts degree out of Chelsea College of Art surely goes way outside the boundaries of privacy. He calls his exhibit “The Falling Man” and it consists of a TV monitor playing a video, on a permanent loop, of a man at a railway station, committing suicide by deliberately falling in front of a train.
As an investigation into the boundaries of privacy if fails. For surely this man, this unknown dead man was entitled to a degree of privacy in this, the final moment of his life. Indeed he surely still retains some right to privacy, even though he be dead. His privacy is in this exhibit exploited and abused by the public exhibition of his fatal act of suicide. And surely the family of this unknown dead man, they too are entitled to some privacy over the death of this man, who they perhaps loved and whose death was, to them, a great tragedy It is unclear whether the family approved off or permitted the use of this video as an Art exhibit, but it seems unlikely that they were asked, unlikely that they would approve. And if by some accident of fate they were to stumble into an art gallery, in Dublin or London, and see their loved one, exhibited for all the world in his fatal distressful last moments upon this earth, then it is highly improbable that they would congratulate the Artist for a producing a wonderful piece of modern art.
Of course Art should disturb you, cause you to think, unsettle your complacency. That is the task of the true Artist. When Tracy Emin, exploited her own privacy, by displaying her unmade bed, with used condoms, dirty underwear, worn sheets and poor hygiene she achieved all of those things, unsettle, disturb, think. She was truly exploring the boundaries of privacy. But the point is that it was HER privacy; It belonged to her; she was free to exploit her own privacy, use her own privacy; exhibit her own privacy, but this, this “Falling Man” is someone else’s privacy. Emin had no need to ask permission to exploit her privacy. And if her bedroom secrets lacked dignity, then it was her dignity that was offended, no one else’s. But where is the dignity of this falling man. For this falling man. This dead man