September 10, 2009 marked the opening of an installation of staggering scope at The Emily Harvey Foundation Gallery in New York City. An American artist residing in Paris, Matthew Rose, invited hundreds of artists from around the globe to participate in the creation of an unbound book on the theme of “death”. Appropriately enough, the exhibition and associated book, were titled, A Book About Death. Each participant was asked to submit an edition of 500 postcards, which were to be exhibited, and then freely distributed at the September 10th opening. The remaining postcards would remain availble for free distribution at the gallery until the show closed on September 22nd.
The opening was a spectacular affair that included performances by a troupe of international performance artists, many of whom were associated with Fluxus. The normally much quieter Emily Harvey Gallery space was overwhelmed (and almost overrun) by the hundreds of people that showed up for the opening. At one point there was a lineup that stretched down the street (Broadway) and around the corner, as the gallery space filled to capacity and a couple hundred people waited for their turn to enter. All in all Mr. Rose and the EHFG (with much help from Christian Xatrec) put together an exceptional production.
…But all of that is not really what this particular blog post is about. A Book About Death was promptly reborn into an active afterlife within only a few days of the gallery closing the show. The first twinge of this afterlife came about upon the acceptance of a complete copy of ABAD into the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). For the many contemporary Fluxus artists that participated, this assumes added significance as it provides a contemporary counterbalance to the acquistion of the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection of Fluxus Art in February 2009. The Silvermans ammassed one the largest collections of early Fluxus works, but its scope was mostly limted to Fluxus prior to 1978.
Aside from the activity in New York City, editions of A Book About Death are beginning to be exhibited elsewhere. The first major exhibition is opening in Los Angeles at Otis College of Art and Design. This exhibition is special because it will be a reprise of the original exhibition since an attendee at the original opening, Mara Thompson (with a little help from her friends), was able to collect enough cards to organize a second free distribution event. Another re-exhibition is pending for Montreal, Canada.
Social networks like Facebook are also buzzing with more plans for more exhibitions everywhere. Welcome to the Afterlife!