Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Habeas Corpus

There’s a scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy (1972) when a body is jettisoned from a truck loaded with potatoes. Besides the potatoes the movie is rife with culinary citations due to the fact that a police detective assigned to the case is married to a woman with culinary ambitions of a comically failed nature (her husband is always dumping her creations in the garbage when she isn’t looking). But the body secreted in the middle of a moving lorry is a suggestive image. You may find department store mannequins thrown out with the rubbish. However, it’s amazing there aren’t more mangled limbs and heads turning up at the local town dump. Vik Muniz's Wasteland dealt with the garbage pickers turned artist/curators of the Jardim Gramacho, a dump outside Rio and there’s Potter’s Field, where all the unclaimed corpses are sent for mass burial and between the two you might have the beginnings of a living piece of surrealism. In the days of incinerators in NYC high rises, there were undoubtedly cases where these shoots became the repository of, at the very least, animal remains. Now however there are far easier and inventive ways of criminals disposing of the dead (for instance animal crematoria). So the opportunities of criminal objets trouves resulting from mob hits is lessened. Remember the cement shoes that the Mafia used to bid farewell to their rivals? Habeas Corpus literally means “produce the body.” Now your average assassination or murder is far more surgical and sterile, employing the most advanced forms of refuse removal known to man.

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