I recently collaborated with fellow artist and compadre Andria Morales on a performance piece titled “Last Ride”. Formerly known as Andria Biblioni, Ms. Morales wanted to mark the moment in her life where her maiden name (and previous self) ceased to exist. We both share a fascination with death and how we as humans approach/accept it within our various cultures. Coming from a Puerto Rican background, Andria has personal experience with the practice of posing for photographs “with ” the departed at their funeral. Being of Irish and German descent myself, there aren’t any notable funeral practices I’ve personally experienced. I still think the act of embalming is extremely bizarre, and dare I say…pointless?
Which is why I’m all for the outrageous viewing displays created by Marin Funeral home in Puerto Rico:
If you’re going to embalm a body, why not make it interesting?
All of this led to us performing a “viewing” for Andria where we transformed the space at local venue the Rotunda to look like a funeral home. This required some manual labor, elbow grease, and the occasional frightening ladder climb by yours truly:
I designed the ensemble and provided the taxidermy mounts scattered throughout the scene for ambience. Here is our subject, looking positively stiff.
We got a decent crowd of friends and relatives flowing in and out to pay their respects; my favorite was dear friend Bailey Hale and Jennifer Cohen who came with the two little ones in tow. I believe she said something about opting for the fake viewing over gymboree that day. The tots were stoked.
Every viewing has its downtime.
The view from behind:
More photos HERE.
This event was several weeks ago and this past Friday the gallery edition of “Last Ride” opened at Air Space which is where Andria currently resides as an artist in residence. We basically recreated the Rotunda set-up with some tweaking, including substituting a mannequin for Andria, who stoically held still like a real body (with my rigging help) throughout the entire two-hour original viewing.
Now that she has ascended, Ms. Morales is currently entrenched in some other activities with artist Maya Escobar. You can learn more by checking out their Are You My Other (self portrait dialogue exchange) project and the AMerican MEdia Output project .