A Book About Death Global Art Project Returns to New York 10 Years After

The 10 Year Anniversary Edition of A Book About Death – The Last Waltz – is an international mail art project that brings artists together in the continuing exploration of the single most unifying human experience that we all share – death. This “edition” celebrates the 10 Year Anniversary of the original show in NYC and the birth of the ABAD Project.

SEE NEW WORK BY RAY JOHNSON
The show will feature a gallery full of never-before-seen work by Ray Johnson from the private collection of Ray Johnson contemporary and friend, Mark Bloch.

LEARN THE GLOBAL HISTORY
The main hall will provide a living history of the ABAD Project and include information about the life and work of Ray Johnson alongside the story of Matthew Rose’s original show and its many iterations all over the world. An 11 1/2 foot timeline will trace all 29 shows, their curators and include curators' notes.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN
More than 250 original pieces created for this show came from 30 different countries including Sweden, Japan, Malta, Luxembourg and Turkey. Visitors are encouraged to collect one of every card and take them home.

VISITORS CAN BE A PART OF THE MAIL ART MOVEMENT
There will be a Mail Art Guestbook Station with postcards specially designed for ABAD 2019 artists. Visitors to the show will be asked to comment on the cards and the Museum will mail one to every contributing artist after the show ends.

WALTZ IN THE RESTORED GOLD COAST BALLROOM
Events for the reception include performances from Fluxus and Dada artists Honey Millmann, Nadine Bouler, Mark Bloch, Mary Campbell, Betty Esperanza, and Soho poet Steve Dalachinsky. There will be waltz music performed by the Long Island Baroque Ensemble, accompanied by professional ballroom dancers. Visitors will be encouraged to take a spin around the grand ballroom at the museum.

WE'RE GOING TO PARIS!
A set of this new 10th Anniversary Exhibition has already been requested by the Musée de la Poste in Paris, France for their permanent collection.

A BOOK ABOUT DEATH: A SHORT HISTORY
The first “A Book About Death” was created in the 1960s by Ray Johnson, an American artist known primarily as a conceptual artist and inventor of Correspondence Art. He was a seminal figure in the history of Neo-Dada and early Pop art and was described as “New York's most famous unknown artist.” Ray Johnson’s original unbound A Book About Death was mailed to his “New York Correspondence School students” and included pages in his idiosyncratic style that were funny, sad and ironic one-page essays on death.

In January 1995, Ray Johnson launched himself from the Sag Harbor Bridge into the icy waters below and drowned — an apparent suicide. For an artist who spent his life communicating seemingly non-stop, his death left a mysterious and silent wake.

The A Book About Death project was begun as an underground global art show in September 2009 at the Emily Harvey Foundation Gallery in New York City. It was conceived by Paris-based American artist Matthew Rose as an open, unbound book on the subject of death. Taking the name “A Book About Death” from Ray Johnson, Rose paid homage to the founder of mail art and at the same time offered artists the opportunity to explore the theme of death through postcard-sized works in editions of 500; thus creating an unbound “book.” Visitors were able to collect one of every card and take them home.

The set of cards from the first show in 2009 is in the Permanent Collections of the MoMA New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California. It included work from 487 artists, some as well known as Yoko Ono and some as obscure as Ben Brown, a 10 year old from Helena, Montana. The cards, of every kind of design imaginable, approach this universal subject from every point of view – personal, metaphysical, political, conceptual and abstract.