A Book About Death Wales Launches
18 October at the RCA UA Wales
For Immediate Release
Royal Cambrian Academy
Crown Lane, Conwy, Wales
LL32 8AN United Kingdom
CONTACT FOR MEDIA:
Sonja Benskin Mesher RCA UA, Wales, Curator
Tel: 07411 455775
WALES, UK – A Book About Death, the most recent in a series of exhibitions on the subject of death, launches in Wales, UK at the Royal Cambrian Academy 18 October, 2014.
Curated by artist Sonja Benskin Mesher, ABAD Wales is the 28th staging of the global project launched in New York in September 2009. Since then the project, a world wide mail art exhibition on the subject of death, has been shown in varying forms in Brazil, Mexicali, Los Angeles, Bosnia Herzagovnia, Treviso, Australia and across the United States, among other venues.
A Book About Death Wales will feature more than 400 works of art sent to the RCA from nearly every corner of the planet; in addition, the archival New York City exhibition at the Emily Harvey Foundation will also be on view – 487 works, as well as the dozen or so original posters from the first show.
The Royal Cambrian Academy is delighted to host ABAD Wales in conjunction with its ‘Art+Book’ exhibition.
“It’s exciting for the Academy to be able to provide another link in the ABAD chain as the concept evolves and travels worldwide,” said RCA Vice-President Ann Lewis. “This is a tremendous opportunity for visitors to the gallery to view artwork by artists from all over the world under one roof. I would like to thank Matthew Rose, and in particular Sonja Benskin-Mesher for the hours of work, energy and effort she’s put into bringing this exhibition together.”
“This is the second time, I have curated A Book about Death, Wales,” explains Benskin Mesher. “Yet I cannot overcome my strong feelings for the project which is humbling in its simplicity. The reactions from others, especially the artists, are honest, generous, with many baring all in their work sent to the exhibition. I have not experienced such a project that shares so much, asks so little, brings so much to the participants, the audience and the world.”
But the art works, in the form of handmade post cards (usually 4 x 6 inches) are not all dark, many are even funny, notes Benskin Mesher, “like the one about man who was buried wearing his new false teeth, or the poignant and honest piece of a small boy who drew his dead rabbit.” The quality of the work is extremely high and that points to a project that continues to evolve and attract interested and interesting artists from as far away as China and Brazil.
The exhibition is first for the RCA Conwy, which normally exhibitions academic works and/or juried shows, and rarely exhibits unframed pieces. ABAD Wales will invite the public to hang the works on 18 October in a community effort to get involved in an exhibition that might normally feel “hands off.” Benskin Mesher is, she insists, “a very hands on curator.”
History of the ABAD Project
Launched in New York in 2009 at The Emily Harvey Foundation Gallery by artist Matthew Rose, the project soon took off across the planet. The call based based on an opportunity to work some magic in a particularly important art space in New York, says Rose. “The gallery was always Fluxus oriented, thanks to the late art dealer Emily Harvey. I thought I could bring together a ‘book’ by mail art genius Ray Johnson – his A Book About Death – and pay homage to Ray and Emily and all the artists and more around the world in a powerful exhibition.” That show was attended by several thousand people, all the work (artists submitted 500 printed or hand made postcard works each) was exhibited and given away free.
“Viewers to the exhibition were encouraged to gather up their own book by selected a work from boxes on the floor,” says Rose. “It was very taxing to do so and took about an hour,” but that’s how the works – the limited edition books – were distributed.” Those complete ABAD books are now in the hands of about 100 artists, curators, collectors, and in the permanent collections of MoMA NYC, LACMA, (LA California and several art colleges), such as The Otis College of Art and Design, in LA, CA. One copy will be on view at the RCA Conwy.
Since the 2009 exhibition more than 5000 artists have participated in the ABAD project and many have become curators themselves of the exhibition. For the São Paulo exhibition at MUBE in Brazil, artist Angela Ferrera “curated” the NYC show with a beautiful music video as well as the museum exhibition. Ferrara’s ABAD video, along with others, and additional information about the ABAD project including posters and a full catalog of the works are viewable here: http://abookaboutdeath.blogspot.com and http://abookaboutdeatharchive.blogspot.com/
History of the ABAD Wales Project
“When I saw the artist call from Matthew Rose circulating on the Internet for a work about death, I didn’t think I had anything to contribute,” recalls Benskin Mesher. “But then something stirred and I create a work ‘the empty chair.’ That artist project continued and the ABAD project became a phenomena, and I carried on with the works combining it with curating the exhibitions here in Wales. It is an exhilarating and moving challenge.”
Wales first showed ABAD, as it is known fondly known by participants, at MOMA in Macynlleth in 2010. This year The Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy, Wales has agreed to host the next chapter in October 2014. “The project,” adds Benskin Mesher, “has become in some strange and wonderful way, A Book About Living.”
For more information, images and downloadables from the project, please see: A Book About Death, Wales: https://abookaboutdeathwales.wordpress.com/