Monday, August 22, 2011

A Book About Death

Artist Ray Johnson is mainly regarded as a correspondence artist, having founded something called the The New York Correspondence School, which basically is an ever changing group of people who send each other art work through the mail.

During 1963-65 Johnson produced 12 unbound pages of mail art for something called "A Book About Death". He sent these one page essays about death to other artists in the correspondence school. Johnson committed suicide in 1995 and in an effort to commemorate him the art project "A Book About Death" was started.
In 2009 artist Mathew Rose, taking inspiration from Johnson's death themed art pages, organized a massive exhibition of similar mail art.  The call went out to artists all across the world to submit postcards on the theme "A Book About Death".  The artists were to create 500 postcard copies of their pieces and mail them to the gallery of the exhibition.  During the show, which was held in September 2009, visitors could then collect postcards from the hundreds of artists and take the postcards home to create their own unique book about death.

Since the original ABAD show, there have no been 23 installments, as the project continues to move around the world with new additions continually.  Each ABAD exhibit is slightly different, some like the recent exhibit in May at the Willo North Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona called for postcards with a memento accompanying it.


The most recent ABAD project is open now, July 31- Sept 2 at the Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery in Long Island.  This unique exhibit is entitled "A Book About Death: The Ties That Bind".  The curator of the event LuAnn T. Palazzo asked artists to submit larger works on pages, one copy to be displayed on the wall for the exhibit and the other to be bound in a book on display during the show.


I've enjoyed browsing the images for the different shows, a few which are included here.  The interpretations on death are as diverse as they come.  Some of the pieces are accompanied by poems, like this piece below with image on one side, and the poem on the back of the post card.

To see the images yourself on a virtual wall go here. To scroll the images on a blog page you can visit the original ABAD site were each picture is posted as a blog entry here

I wonder if there would be a place to do some collage work as a self care session for hospice and palliative care in this way, or perhaps a work shop at a national convention resulting in a Hospice and Palliative Medicine edition to A Book About Death?

Art work credits from top to bottom:
Steve Dalachinsky
Laura Sharp Wilson
"The Call" Sophia Oldsman
"Sustenance" Kim Triedman

1 Responses to “A Book About Death”

Kathleen McHugh said...
October 10, 2011 at 9:52 PM

We would like to invite people to participate in A Book About Death Seattle. Deadline is Oct. 31, 2011.
The complete artist call: http://abadseattle.blogspot.com/2011/07/almendra-sandoval-quetzalcoatl.html