The Torture of the 100 Pieces
by Martin Bladh & Karolina Urbaniak
Martin Bladh and Karolina Urbaniak's The Torture of The 100 Pieces, is an indirect reference to Georges Bataille’s obsession with a series of photographs depicting the Chinese execution technique Lingchi - “death by a thousand cuts.” Over a period of eight years Martin Bladh’s body was subjected to countless self-inflicted wounds, which have been carefully documented and aestheticised by Karolina Urbaniak’s camera. In this work Bladh’s presence exists primarily through the juxtaposition of Urbaniak’s photographs and accompanying written materials, these include extracts drawn from art criticism, true crime reportage, philosophy, explorations of literature, descriptions of public killings, online discussions of horrific videos, and mediations on the nature of acting.
These text extracts share a common theme in tracing the complex and shifting relationships between the creative and the cruel, between art and violence, brutality and culture, and Bladh turns these words inwards, not simply through the process of reading but into his flesh. The close-up photography undertaken by Urbaniak makes the skin the primary focus of the viewer’s gaze; the textures and colours of the flesh resemble landscapes marked by disaster, inadvertently recalling aerial photographs of battlefields.
These photographs emerge from, and seek to return to, a moment of timelessness, in which the body is opened and recontextualised. To view these pictures, the variety of injuries on display, is to be compelled to look. Yet this gaze is not seeking a revelatory moment, the sheer overwhelming selection of images prohibits the ready consumption of a singular truth. Instead each demands a new engagement from the viewer. Each text pushes thought in new directions. The series becomes a cycle of flesh hieroglyphs. Each injury becomes the source of its own meaning.
- Jack Sargeant
Text by Martin Bladh
Photography by Karolina Urbaniak
Foreword by Jack Sargeant
Hardbound, 280 pages, over 100 illustrations, 200x200mm
Conducted by A.W.W Bremont for Filthy Dreams
About the authors
Martin Bladh is a Swedish-born artist of multiple mediums. His work lays bare themes of violence, obsession, fantasy, domination, submission and narcissism. Bladh is a founding member of the post-industrial band IRM, the musical avant-garde unit Skin Area and co-founder of the publishing company Infinity Land Press. His published work includes To Putrefaction, Qualis Artifex Pereo, DES, The Rorschach Text, The Hurtin’ Club, Darkleaks - The
Ripper Genome and Marty Page. He lives and works in London.
Karolina Urbaniak is a visual artist and co-founder of Infinity Land Press. Urbaniak’s published work includes To Putrefaction, 2014, Altered Balance – A Tribute to Coil, 2014/15/19, The Void Ratio, 2015, Artaud 1937 Apocalypse, 2018 and Death Mort Tod - A European Book of the Dead, 2018. Her recent multimedia projects include the audio-visual installation On The New Revelations of Being, 2018 inspired by the work of Antonin Artaud, and Sandmann, 2019 short film commissioned by the Sigmund Freud Museum. She lives and works in London.
Jack Sargeant is an author, curator, and artist. His books include Flesh And Excess: On Underground Film (Amok Books), Against Control (Eight Millimetre), Naked Lens: Beat Cinema, and Deathtripping (both published by Soft Skull), among others. His writings on topics ranging from photography to performance art, experimental music to underground cinema have appeared in numerous books, catalogues, journals, and magazines. He currently lives in Sydney.
I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.