Exquisite Corpse

Submitted by Stu Schechter

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Client: Minnesota Percent for Art Program

Location: St. Paul, MN, United States

Completion date: Jan 01, 2004

Artwork budget: $200,000

Project Team

Artist

Stu Schechter

Sandcartstudio

Artist

Ralph Helmick

Overview

collaboration with Ralph Helmick
dimenensions: 8' h 5.5' w 26' d
materials: steel, aluminum, stained glass
site: Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
commissioned by: Minnesota Percent for Art Program “Firstly, colorful stained-

Goals

The main goal for this project was to create immense site specificity. We wanted to create an art work that could be used in this building and only this building. We achieved this by incorporating individual disciplines practiced in the labs. Quotes taken from the artist statement, "The mechanisms that suspend the stained-glass sections also function as a second layer of imagery. Welded metal filigrees hold the glass panels in place, each steel “drawing” referring to a different analytical technique employed at the lab. Allusions to specific disciplines include molecular diagrams of heroin and ethanol, representations of bullet holes and blunt objects, and raw data from dental records and gas chromatography." and, "Seen as a whole, the scientific specialties embedded in Exquisite Corpse merge into a dense web of interconnected information, creating a metaphor for how various departments at the BCA often unite to forge a nuanced understanding of complex crimes."

Process

This project was a collaboration between Stu Schechter and Ralph Helmick. They as a team worked closely with engineers, glass work artists, and (most importantly) members of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to make this project fit perfectly (literally and figuratively) into the space. A constant conversation was taking place with everyone involved to accommodate any issues or surprises.

Additional Information

Firstly, colorful stained-glass panels depicting twice-life-size cross-sections of human anatomy. Collectively, they indicate the form of a dissected, recumbent, elongated male figure. Secondarily, The mechanisms that suspend the stained-glass sections also function as a second layer of imagery. Welded metal filigrees hold the glass panels in place, each steel “drawing” referring to a different analytical technique employed at the lab. The familiar DNA double helix appears twice, at the head and foot of the figure, framing the entire artwork as an acknowledgment of the centrality of genetics to contemporary forensic investigation.