Virgil Wong and Barton Benes, Corporeal Landscape, human ash, ink and pencil on paper, 4′ X 10′.
From 1994-1995, Virgil Wong dissected and drew cadavers at the University of Rome Medical School. As a trained figurative artist, he initially studied human anatomy to simply improve his painting technique. Drawing and analyzing dead bodies, however, led to interests in Cartesian dualism, the philosophy that the mind can occupy space beyond the material. In Corporeal Landscape, Wong xeroxed and manipulated hundreds of his anatomical drawings and combined them into a single collage. For an exhibition in 2004, sculptor Barton Lidice Benes placed a paper skeleton covered in cremated human remains into the middle of Wong’s collage. Together, the result is a provocative work that looks at the human body as an artifact left behind by the individual – and not his or her totality.