Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Until Death Do Us Part

Jul 12, 2017 - Francesca Catastini

I’m just a casual smoker, but each time that I buy cigarettes and I get the “smoking increases the risk of blindness” message, together with one of its warning photos, I smile. The main reason for such a reaction must be a personal form of stupidity, but I cannot avoid finding it a funny coincidence, as I work with images. This subtle complacency is probably due to a sort of atavistic tickling thrill one feels when thinking about what it seems to be a distant fear. It’s like a blind spot, you know it’s there, but since you cannot actually see what’s in there, the idea of risk just lingers at the back of your mind.

The fright of becoming blind has a strong grip on us, especially in our ocularcentric time, so, on a psychological level, it should be a good deterrent. Still, even among kids, the sentence “You’ll go blind if you keep playing with those” sounds as fake as Santa Claus…

I need to admit that each time I get one of those warning photos when I buy cigarettes, I always end up thinking of Thomas Sauvin’s Until Death Do Us PartA publication which, as its author put it, “pays homage to a tradition in which love and death walk hand in hand”. The work is the result of his extremely smart and accurate selection of negatives picturing cigarette-smoking games at Chinese weddings. Sprite bottle bongs and groom’s upper lip and nose cigarette holder are sequenced together with other images of odd and funny rituals involving newlywed couples. All edited and assembled by Sauvin in a pack of cigarette size book published by Jiazazhi.

As it often happens with rituals, these unusual traditions the author shows us, seem completely irrational, illogical and hilarious to the eye of an outside observer.  And again, that tickling mechanism… Each time I go through it, I smile.