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

CLICK THIS LINK TO SEE the Video of the Opening Reception from Saturday, September 14.

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THIS SHOW IN THE NEWS.

The 10th 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.

WE'RE GOING TO PARIS, HUNGARY, WASHINGTON DC, POLAND AND MORE!
A set of this new 10th Anniversary Exhibition is headed to the permanent collections of:
The Musee de la Poste in Paris, France
The MoMA NY
ARTPOOL, Budapest, Hungary
The Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY
The Archives of American Art at the SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, Washington DC
The Alternative Traditions in Contemporary Arts Archive of the University of Iowa
The Waskomium, Burlington, VT
The Book Art Museum, Lodz, Poland

SEE RAY JOHNSON
The show features a gallery full of never-before-seen art by Ray Johnson from the private collection of Johnson's contemporary and friend, Mark Bloch.

HEAR RAY JOHNSON
An audio recording of Ray being interviewed on WCWP Radio accompanies his original ABAD pages. Listen as he generally confounds the interviewer with an impromptu performance. Or was he just being Ray?

LEARN THE GLOBAL HISTORY
The main hall provides a comphrehensive history of the ABAD Project and includes 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 traces all 29 shows, their curators and includes curators' notes.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN
More than 200 original pieces in editions of 500 were created for this show. They came from 27 different countries including Sweden, Japan, Malta, Luxembourg and Turkey. Visitors are encouraged to collect one of every card from the new exhibition and take them home.

VISITORS CAN BE A PART OF THE MAIL ART MOVEMENT
Stop at the Mail Art Guestbook Station and comment on a commemorative post card. The Museum will send one to each contributing ABAD artist after the show ends.

FEATURING AN EVENING OF LIVE AND VIDEO PERFORMANCES
The reception included live performances from Fluxus and Dada artists Louise Millmann, Nadine Bouler, Mark Bloch, Mary Campbell, Canadian artist Betty Esperanza, Soho poet Steve Dalachinsky, Chuck Welch, Key Makeup Designer Lilah Quinn, and Queens poet Antonia Palazzo. Videos were screened from Photographer AnnMarie Tornabene / France, Visual Artist Karen Aleyan / Armenia, Mixed Media Artist Maggie Nightingale / UK, and Performance Artist Barbara Lubliner / USA.

WALTZING IN THE RESTORED GOLD COAST BALLROOM
Waltz music was performed by the Long Island Baroque Ensemble, accompanied by professional ballroom dancers Phyllis Ozarin and Joel Rodriguez. Visitors waltzed the grand ballroom at the museum, too.

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 486 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.