Library Of Colorful Decay- Canisters Filled With Unclaimed Insane Asylum Human Remains

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We’ve posted David Maisel’s work before. His aerial photographs of open mines depict the colorful transformation of polluted areas. His new project, Library of Dust, catalogues individual copper canisters containing the unclaimed remains of patients from the Oregon State Insane Asylum who died sometime between 1883 and the 1970s. Each canister’s chemical decay is uniquely colorful; the aesthetic resonates with transformation indicated in his aerial photography. “Among my concerns with Library of Dust are the crises of representation that derive from attempts to index or archive the evidence of trauma; the uncanny ability of objects to portray such trauma; and the revelatory possibilities inherent in images of such traumatic disturbances. While there are certainly physical and chemical explanations for the ways these canisters have transformed over time, the canisters also encourage us to consider what happens to our own bodies when we die, and to the souls that occupy them.”

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  • Bridget

    LOVE this work. and, it’s a book: http://bit.ly/10LYK59

    –http://pippascabinet.blogspot.com/

  • Melissa Glick

    OMG That is the most bizarre, disturbing…..curious, beautiful, unimaginable….