by marissa bea
On this past rainy Friday, a friend and I waded through the puddles of Soho yuppies to a small, second floor gallery. The front door hidden between the smells of Lush and I think some shoes on the other side, it’s one of those galleries that’s hard to find unless you are looking for it. But on this occasion we had a mission: to read through the “unbound ‘book’ on the subject of death.”
[Editor's note: musical accompaniment on this post comes from London band Stricken City that recently signed with The Kora Records.]
This book is not a book in the traditional sense. Artists submitted 500 postcards about their interpretation of death, and hundreds of people sent in work, from famous names like Yoko Ono, to your average joe on the street. Laid out in their original shipping boxes, in several rows on the floor, almost like an old book sale, visitors can spend hours just sitting and reading the postcards, thumbing through views of death from all parts of the world.
The kindly gentleman running the place informed us that not only were we allowed to photograph the exhibition but that we could, and should, take home one of each of the postcards that was laid out on the floor. I absolutely took him up on this offer and for more than an hour, my friend and I crawled around on the floor and collected one of each postcard, to comprise a full set of this exhibition. Along the way you can’t help but read almost all of the cards, so every other minute or so we were finding interesting cards to show each other, with either laughter on our lips or tears in our eyes.
Just like one would think, the ideas about death are as individual as the people who created them. Some bear long tales of tragic loss and family suffering. Others are comical, portraying death as a flower-toting stranger. Even others take a metaphorical stance, reminding us that death has more than just a literal meaning. The exhibition is simple, no frills, gimmicks or use of a highfalutin presentation. It’s a small, comfortable space, geared to let you focus only on the postcards. If you can make it there and get a full collection, you also gain the experience of sitting there in a room with others, reading these stories and connecting with people whom you will never meet.
Beautifully done, this is a small piece of wonderful that has been dealt to NYC. Rather than one artist’s overbearing representation of the oppression of death, the feelings of hundreds of fellow humans are carried through these postcards. Hurry up kids, the show only lasts through September 22nd, it’s short, but oh so sweet.