Song of Sentient Beings #1612

Accession Number

Song of Sentient Beings #1612

Bill Jacobson

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

36 in x 28 in (91.4 cm x 71.1 cm);36 in x 28 in (91.4 cm x 71.1 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the W. Hawkins Ferry Fund

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Bill Jacobson describes his purpose in making his experimental soft-focus photographs as “an ongoing meditation around desire, loss, and the role of photography as a vehicle for remembrance.” Through his ambiguous figures, which seem to simultaneously suggest both emergence and dissolution, Jacobson directly addresses the way photographs can so poignantly preserve a moment from the past even as they document that moment’s passing. In doing so he makes photography into a meditation on the essence of mortality. “Most photographs,” he explains, “are meant as documents of moments we wish to hold onto forever. My work suggests that these moments, like life itself, are constantly fading into the past.” While not specifically about the AIDS epidemic that struck the community of New York artists in the eighties and nineties, Jacobson’s photographs document a community and era ravaged by disease.

Subject matter
Bill Jacobson's large-scale photographic works address themes of mortality and loss in the aftermath of AIDS. Using the unfocused figure, Jacobson's work suggests both emergence and dissolution while also commenting on photography's ability to capture passing moments. Jacobson describes his work as "an ongoing meditation around desire, loss, and the role of photography as a vehicle for remembrance." 

Physical Description
A blurred image of a nude figure bending forward, the arms nearly reaching the ground.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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human figures (visual works)
nudes (representations)

71 Related Resources

(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
U.S. Radicalism
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Sp16 Morales - AMCULT 204 - Race and Nation in Film Genres
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Zombies, Skeletons, and the Undead
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History of New Media 
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Docent Materials for Material Science CE
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(Part of: Resources Made by Isabel Engel)
C2 - Crasnow - Art and Resistance (brainstorm)
(Part of: Curriculum/Collection)
(Part of: Examples of Online Activities)
Photography and Time - Capturing time / Visualizing time
(Part of: F20 Brown - COMPLIT 382 / RCHUMS 304 - It's About Time: Lived Experience in a Time of Crisis )
W21 Mueggler - ANTHRCUL 337 - Death, Dying, Afterlife
(Part of: Resources Made by Isabel Engel)
History of HED from 1893 to 1969
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& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ FFW, Mezzanine ➜ M05 (Jan and David Brandon Family Bridge)