Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

A BOOK ABOUT DEATH: Now in Australia

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Doug’s contribution to A Book About Death


A new exhibition at the Tweed River Art Gallery presents an exhibition of mail art contributed by artists from all over the world which that deals with the topic of death. Entitled, A Book About Death (ABAD), this exhibition is the most recent iteration of the concept that began in 1963 by Mail Art ‘father’ Ray Johnson – The difference on this occasion being that most of the artists represented in the show are Australian. The coordination and curation of this ABAD exhibition has been overseen by Julie Barrett and Heather Matthew.



The following background information comes from the ABAD website:


The Australian exhibition is is the 27th exhibition of A Book About Death. Paris based artist Matthew Rose instigated the first A Book About Death exhibition in 2009 in New York. Five hundred artists submitted five hundred copies of their artwork to the exhibition in the Emily Harvey Gallery. On the opening night people came with plastic bags and collected the free artworks and so were able to create their own (unbound) book about death. Many people then went on to exhibit their collections at other galleries and so the exhibition grew into an international phenomena with artists curating their own exhibitions and calling for new artworks to be created for the new exhibitions. Matthew Rose created the exhibition as a tribute to the ‘father’ of mail art Ray Johnson.
Here’s what Mark Bloch from New York who knew Ray Johnson wrote:
First and foremost, the American artist Ray Johnson (1927-1995) the founder of the New York Correspondence School deserves all the credit for creating the concept of A Book About Death because he was really onto something when he came up with the concept in 1963. Between March of that year and February 1965, he sent out 13 pages or so of something he called A Book About Death. In framing one piece of a paper as one page of a conceptual book, he anticipated many literary developments of the four decades that have followed. Ray Johnson’s A Book About Death connects to hypertext, cyberpunk, the internet, as well as devices like the Kindle, a device that is an accumulator of electrons that shows its user pictures on a screen of what can be thought of as a book. But the Kindle, one of the possible signposts of what the future of reading will be like, cannot show us an entire book. It can only show us one page at a time.
Vicky's contribution to the ABAD exhibition

Vicky’s contribution to the ABAD exhibition


Vicky’s statement about the work:

Through the microscope I saw the death of a leaf as a metaphor for the forest.

In this leaf I could see

The searing flames of a bush fire,

The decay and recycling of its flesh and bones,

The crystallization of time

A fossil

The past and the future

The story of the forest

In the death of a leaf . . .



Death Cafe Event

Death Cafe Event


FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://abadaustralia.blogspot.com.au/
FOR AN ABC INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER MATTHEW: http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2013/10/17/3870941.htm.
© 2013 Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart….ABAD Website and ‘About Us’ text Copyright ABAD Australia.

Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.euThe Cooper+Spowart text and work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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