Friday, August 10, 2007

The Body Bag Project

Every day people die. And while some die for completely natural reasons (old age, untreatable illness, freak-no fault-accident, etc.), others die as victims of some horrible, preventable, tragedy. Most prominently in our minds is the war in Iraq. Thousands of American and Coalition soldiers have died in this war. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have as well. I don't think anyone's keeping count of the other side.

The Body Bag Project is an attempt to make a creative record of these deaths. Not just as names or statistics, but as individuals. Every person has something that they feel defines them. The idea is to capture a simple image that describes this person and imprint it on the outside of a body bag.

So I'm guessing you have a few questions...

  • "Why a body bag? Why not something nice and not totally morbid and creepy?" The answer is death is morbid. Someone you care about is gone forever. Painting an excessively happy face on death doesn't deal with the fact that death is final. It doesn't respect the family's grief. And it doesn't force the people responsible for the death to recognize that this person is gone forever.

  • "So what are you some kind of atheist? If they believed in God they're going to heaven. That's happy right?" Actually no, I'm not an atheist even though I have friends who are. I'm a lifelong Christian. Raised COGIC. I've also got tons of family who are native New Orleanians. That's a lot of celebrating life instead of mourning death. I'm a firm believer that death isn't the end and that mourning is only temporary. But there is still mourning. Failure to deal with that is more trouble than it's worth.

  • "Is this another anti-war site?" Yes and no. Yes because I believe fundamentally that war, especially this war, is wrong. Death in war is tragic and senseless. But what you won't find here is brainless ranting and arguing about politicians and such. This project isn't about that. It's about the victims. Our love for them. Our pain that they're gone. Our hope that no one else will have to die for such a reason. I think that regardless of your opinion on this war, respecting the fallen should be common ground for all of us.

  • "What are you planning to do with the body bags?" Well the ultimate goal is something like the aids quilt. Thousands of personalized body bags lying on the National Mall (kind of like the Aids Quilt). But until we make it to D. C. I'll settle for smaller showings wherever people are willing to hang them: galleries, stores, whatever.

  • "So how are you planning on making them?" Photography is my real medium. The last think I painted looked like a 4th grade art project. But that's why I have friends who are way better with a pen and brush than I am.

  • "Wait. You're not going to just start making bags for people without their families permission are you?" No way. This project is about respect. How can we have respect for these people without having respect for their families? Every body bag we make will have the approval of that individual's family. Besides, we've got to talk to them to find out what art would be appropriate.

  • "Will you do a body bag for someone for me?" Sure. Just know that if you're not family we'll have to get their permission still. I'd even be willing to take your art work to go on the body bag.

  • "I know someone that didn't die in the war but they still died a senseless death from violence, treatable illness, suicide, negligence, etc. Can you do a bag for them?" Yea we can. It wouldn't be a part of the main exhibit, but possibly in another more generalized one.

  • "So what's the blog for?" We're going to post the pictures of the bags and stories about the people. Exhibit photos too.

  • "Will you send me my friend's bag?" No. Can't do that. We can't display them in an exhibit if we ship them away.

If you have anymore questions then post them as comments here.

Thanks for your help,


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