‘Everybody Dies!” Exhibition

Carriage Trade

poster for ‘Everybody Dies!” Exhibition
[Image: Nuotama Bodomo Video still from "Everybody Dies!" (2016)]

This event has ended.

No one can confidently say that he will still be living tomorrow.

Death don’t have no mercy.
-Reverend Gary Davis

The logic of unnecessary suffering and death is guaranteed by the news. Before the pandemic, before the explicit brutality revealed by cell phone videos, violence has long been sublimated through media ritual. If if it bled, it led. School shootings, police violence, environmental carnage, and “expected” casualties in low-income neighborhoods scroll across the screen in a flash, furnishing living rooms with wall to wall anxiety, explicitly evoking fearful responses that fuel a divisive politics.

With no chance to pause, no break in the breathless expression of conflict and reprisal, the citizen succumbs. Lacking rituals that permit assimilation of pain and loss, the media’s engine churns, denying us the specificity and details that might foster empathy over alienation. As government and the social order morph into a massive train wreck from which it’s impossible to look away, the now limitless terrain occupied by corporate and social media graft themselves over the last shreds of community interest, blanketing consciousness with ratings systems that stimulate competitiveness over comprehension.

Identifying with faithful cable networks and social media communities that confirm our beliefs through contrast to those which we’re encouraged to despise, the undeniable, universal nature of mortality becomes a divisive subject. In a system predicated on experience-as-commodity, the question of value extends to a life, with prices varying depending on where one falls in the social order. The “essential workers” are applauded as they fall, their pain understood most acutely by the communities within which the media rarely tread.

Death has a value that’s overshadowed by “life”, as life asserts values which deny death’s existence. A deadly virus rips through partisan divides, mocking the tribal fury which overshadows a mutual acknowledgment of a common plight. The economic divide looms underneath, as grotesque inequalities, unmatched in nearly a century, threaten to take their revenge.

Taking its title from Nuotama Bodomo’s 2016 film, Everybody Dies!, which features Tonya Pinkins as a fictitious public access TV host Ripa the (grim) Reaper who “teaches black kids about the day they’ll die”, this exhibition will explore the theme of death through social, political, and metaphysical perspectives.


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