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the epitaph project

October 6, 2016–February 26, 2017
At the American Folk Art Museum
Lincoln Square, Manhattan

the epitaph project began in 1995 on a burial plot in Hollywood Forever, a historic cemetery in Los Angeles. The ongoing project comprises a traditional tombstone carved from slate, finished as a chalkboard, and accompanied by a bronze chalk box for the use of visitors. It exists in other iterations including cemeteries, exhibitions, parks, and publications. the epitaph project will be on view at the American Folk Art Museum throughout the duration of Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America.

“There’s something clarifying about composing or even thinking about one’s own epitaph. There can be a sense of self-discovery as well as both humor and high seriousness. All spectators are also performers and the project, while attempting to engage taboos on death, is ultimately about life. Finally, it is an open possibility lying in wait for whomever might pass.”

— Joyce Burstein, artist


Photos by Joyce Burstein


the epitaph project is supported by the Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology, Houston.