Life, Death & Law

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Series of three MRI scans of the brain at different cross-sections


Visualising the Corpse in Art and Law

Representations of the corpse have transfixed society since antiquity. Whether visualised in portraiture or vanitas, embodied in effigies or death masks, or recorded on photographs or x-rays, the dead can only appear to the living through their images.

This workshop invites scholars to explore the interrelationships between law, art, and death.

It has been suggested by philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, and legal scholars that images enable the corpse to appear and speak to the living. The practice of visualising the corpse has shaped an inventory of techniques for representing death in the domains of art, medicine and law. In a world where death touches us in many ways, from playing cards to horror films, public executions to coronial investigations, images of the corpse remind us that the dead never disappear. Whether they are memorialised in art, pathologised in medicine, misrepresented in law or simply linger in the empty spaces of galleries, hospitals or courtrooms, the corpse always remains at work.