Press Release

The Ontological Museum 
6955 Pinon Street Fort Worth Texas 76116



OPENING: October 8, 2010 - 6 PM - 8 PM
EXHIBITION: October 8-30, 2010; Monday - Saturday, 10AM - 5PM
THE WALL : [Designed by Caterina Verde].

Cecil Touchon, Director, The Ontological Museum: 1 817 944 4000 E :

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – The Ontological Museum is pleased to present A Book About Death, a sprawling, collaborative unbound "book" on the subject of death at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center in Fort Worth. The opening, on Friday, October 8, 2010 brings together hundreds of artists in a global exhibition that honors the late artist Ray Johnson (1927-1995), whose own work inspired this exhibition; Emily Harvey (1941-2004); and the artists themselves, who have presented their unique visions of the subject through combinations of art, photography, and text.

Conceived and organized by Matthew Rose, a Paris-based American artist, A Book About Death is comprised of artists' postcards from original art created specifically for the exhibit.  These pieces collectively form the pages of the "book."   While many of the artists involved in the exhibition are internationally known – Yoko Ono, Eric Andersen, Peter Schuyff, Rodney Alan Greenblat – all of the artists share the stage equally.  At the first exhibit at the Emily Harvey Foundation in New York City in September 2009, each artist contributed 500 postcards to the exhibit, and visitors to the gallery were encouraged to take "pages" away with them to create their own book about death.  The exhibit was thus designed to "disappear" on its own schedule as people attend the exhibit. The Ontological Museum’s collection on view at this exhibit were gathered at that time and the exhibition recreated for this show.    

Taking the title from Ray Johnson, Matthew Rose's A Book About Death project refers to Johnson’s groundbreaking-work in the ephemeral, expanded field of correspondence art. However, this show sets those key Johnsonian concepts on a new course.
"Understanding death in any complete sense, doesn't seem at all possible if you're alive, but these artists have fleshed out many hundreds of approaches," says Matthew Rose. The artist pays tribute to his own mother, Doris, who died during the project, with a photograph of her taken on her wedding day, January 18, 1948.  "I'm pleasantly astonished at the intellectual breadth and high humor of the works, and I think both Ray and Emily – and even my mother – would be, too.  It's a fascinating book."

"Between March 1963 and early 1965, Ray Johnson sent out an unbound 'book' in the mail one page at a time," explains Mark Bloch, one 13 speakers and performers for the opening night. "It was a largely unnoticed milestone in the history of books.  To make things even more interesting, like much of Johnson's art, it took as its subject ‘death’. Now almost 15 years after the mysterious death of Johnson himself, a huge cross-section of international artists have been asked to revisit Johnson's original strategy by submitting one page each to a new 'Book About Death.'"

"This project has been compelling for its sheer openness on a topic that is universal," says Caterina Verde, artist and website designer of the "wall" style site for A Book About Death. "To see the images submitted from around the world and the cultural permutations of the subject, the variations of temperament, thoughts, aesthetics --- is as we observe ourselves walking through life : Ordinary and extraordinary."

"The distribution of art and ideas was very much Ray Johnson's thing," says Denver-based photographer Mark Sink, who contributed a photograph of his mother, a three-time cancer survivor, to the exhibition. "It's very exciting to see him and the concept honored in this exhibition."  Sink noted that when first confronted with the project, he drew a blank on death. Then, with some time, the ideas came rushing in.  "Life is all about death -- Freud's dissertation of the human drive – sex or death and 'the death of analog...the death of our culture…the slaughter of self-aware sea mammals, and of course, our dying earth. Now I can't stop thinking about it!"

"A Book About Death has become a book about life," adds Joan Harrison, artist, writer. "I have the strangest sense I can hear Ray (Johnson) chuckling over my shoulder every time I work on anything involved with this project!" 

Posters especially produced for the exhibition by designers Julia Hoffmann, Robert Mars, Cecil Touchon, Caterina Verde, Matthew Rose, David Rager and Osiris Hertz have been offered free as high-resolution PDFs on the web site: Visitors to the site are encouraged to download the posters and print them at home.

The project has taken off in a viral way via FaceBook, e-mail, Twitter and word of mouth in artist communities from Spain and Belgium to Australia and Brooklyn.  FaceBook was a particularly powerful organizing medium: a group was formed and an event page was created. Artists began to network, talk to each other and collaborate on performances, posters and, of course getting feedback on their works. Very much Ray Johnson-envisioned, this exhibition is a collage of people, some living, some dead, all very much a part of this very special happening.

Projects like A Book About Death, echo the collaborative work of the museum involving creative endeavors from all corners of the world using the internet as a medium through which to orchestrate global participation. The Ontological Museum concerns itself with supporting ideas resistant to international or cultural boundaries to look beyond our differences toward our unity as a human culture.
For more details, (see all our projects)

Cecil Touchon, Director, The Ontological Museum: 1 817 944 4000 E :