Thursday, August 20, 2009

unexpected confluence

Yesterday an artist friend, Ravenna Taylor, posted that she's under deadline to finish a submission of five hundred postcards for a show at the Emily Harvey Foundation gallery in New York City. Entitled "A Book About Death," the project is an homage to Ray Johnson, founder of the New York Correspondance (sic) School & subject of the documentary film "How to Draw a Bunny." According to EHF websites, "A BOOK ABOUT DEATH is an open, unbound book produced by artists worldwide. Thousands of artists are invited to create a 'page' in the form of a postcard about death"; at the exhibit visitors will be welcome to take these contributions & form their own volume on the subject. In keeping with the theme of mortality, creator Matthew Rose writes that "as the cards are removed, the exhibition will disappear."

Having spent the day wandering around the East Village photographing, I thought immediately of an image taken by the Russian & Turkish Baths & opened up the digital files to view it. Skeletons are perhaps the most overused trope in any visual exploration of the fleeting nature of life, but I still liked the photo.



It was while reviewing the rest of the day's shuttered moments that things got a bit weird. Namely, death was everywhere: in the batlike husks of withered leaves, the smoking hipster, the anxious man crossing the street in front of a spraypainted mural tribute. How had I not noticed?

The first photo of the morning, taken of a plastic grey owl glaring at grey pigeons in a ghastly grey airshaft, veritably screamed death.









Really, though, it isn't difficult to argue that death is present in everything. Looking at a snapshot of rollicking sunbright children, we smile & comment happily, yet push away the knowledge that they too will die someday.

But this is our contract with being human: awaremess of our future demise. So here's to life, because it's the damn finest gift we'll ever get.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautifully written essay; it made me cry.

August 21, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

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