Amy Bassin, an artist based in Long Island City, Queens, New York, writes that the work she prepared for the exhibition at The Emily Harvey Foundation was never sent because she was overcome with the emotions surrounding the loss of her father. However, she did contribute the piece to the exhibition at MuBE in São Paulo, Um Livro Sobre A Morte and sent this note to explain the work and its genesis.
The death of a parent is a major, life-altering event for most of us – no matter what age we are and no matter what age the parent is, we are changed.
After I lost my dad, about an year ago, I found our culture intolerant of grief, after the one week period allotted for it. I discovered the New York City rat race has little or no time for death, and your loss beyond the circle of family and friends is too often slighted, ignored and quickly forgotten. "Life goes on," I was told again and again, but my dad was no longer around for me to spend time with and it seemed as if life wasn't moving for me and my confusion mounted.
Confronted with questions – "What is death? Where do we go when we die? Where is his body, his soul....Where is my dad and when is he coming home?" – I found no satisfactory answers, and perhaps never will.
I made a 'postcard' for him and was going to send it to "The Book About Death" show sponsored by the Emily Harvey Foundation Gallery in NYC, 2009. I didn't send it as my emotions were still so raw. And my postcard was just for him, I wasn't sure I wanted to share it.
But as the project continued to move around the world, my thinking evolved. I decided to send it to "Um Livro Sobre A Morte" at MuBe, in São Paulo, Brazil and then to the exhibition at MoMA Wales. I take some solace to know my small work in the form of a postcard is traveling the world, and that that wherever my dad may be, perhaps he will see it.
My "Book About Death" postcard, conceptual in nature, is titled: "The Queen's Sky." I live in Long Island City, Queens, and my dad had his office in Queens. "The Queen's Sky" is a series of digitally altered photos of the sky in this borough of New York, taken through a hole in a roof of a building near me. The blue geometric shapes are "the sky," and the brown geometric shapes, "the roof." I took the geometric art and placed it in a photo of a billboard, with a glaring ray of sunlight shining off the metal structure. To me the work is essentially "a ray of hope!"
This project has warranted so much attention and participation because we don't know how to deal with our grief, and across the world, artists and viewers have found a way to confront themselves and the subject of death in many different ways for many different reasons. It is nearly a year since my father died and I'm slowly beginning to see the sky again – his sky.
Amy Bassin Website.