A Book About Death, Wales

Launches 18 October at the RCA UA Wales
For Immediate Release

Royal Cambrian Academy
Crown Lane, Conwy, Wales,LL32 8AN United Kingdom

Sonja Benskin-Mesher RCA UA, Wales, Curator
Email: sonja@sonja-benskin-mesher.com Tel: 07411 455775 

WALES, UK – A Book About Death, the most recent in a series of exhibitions 
on the subject of death, launches in Wales, UK at the Royal Cambrian Academy 
18 October, 2014. 
Curated by artist Sonja Benskin-Mesher, ABAD Wales is the 28th staging of the 
global project launched in New York in September 2009. Since then the project, 
a world wide mail art exhibition on the subject of death, has been shown in varying forms 
in Brazil, Mexicali, Los Angeles, Bosnia Herzagovnia, Treviso, Australia and across 
the United States, among other venues. 
A Book About Death Wales will feature more than 400 works of art sent to the RCA 
from nearly every corner of the planet; in addition, the archival New York City exhibition 
at the Emily Harvey Foundation will also be on view – 487 works, as well as the dozen 
or so original posters from the first show.
The Royal Cambrian Academy is delighted to host ABAD Wales in conjunction with its ‘Art+Book’ exhibition.
“It’s exciting for the Academy to be able to provide another link in the ABAD chain as 
the concept evolves and travels worldwide,” said RCA Vice-President Ann Lewis.  
“This is a tremendous opportunity for visitors to the gallery to view artwork by artists 
from all over the world under one roof. I would like to thank Matthew Rose, and in 
particular Sonja Benskin-Mesher for the hours of work, energy and effort she’s put into bringing this exhibition together.”
“This is the second time, I have curated A Book about Death, Wales,” explains BenskinMesher. “Yet I cannot overcome my strong feelings for the project which is 
humbling in its simplicity.  The reactions from others, especially the artists, are honest, generous, with many baring all in their work sent to the exhibition. I have not experienced such a project that shares so much, asks so little, brings so much to the participants, 
the audience and the world.”
But the art works, in the form of handmade post cards (usually 4 x 6 inches) are not 
all dark, many are even funny, notes BenskinMesher, “like the one about man who was buried wearing his new false teeth, or the poignant and honest piece of a small boy who drew his dead rabbit.”  The quality of the work is extremely high and that points to a project that continues to evolve and attract interested and interesting artists from as far away as China and Brazil.
The exhibition is first for the RCA Conwy, which normally exhibitions academic works 
and/or juried shows, and rarely exhibits unframed pieces.  ABAD Wales will invite the 
public to hang the works on 18 October in a community effort to get involved in an
exhibition that might normally feel “hands off.”  Benskin-Mesher is, she insists, 
“a very hands on curator.”

History of the ABAD Project

Launched in New York in 2009 at The Emily Harvey Foundation Gallery by artist 
Matthew Rose, the project soon took off across the planet.  The call based based on 
an opportunity to work some magic in a particularly important art space in New York, 
says Rose.  
“The gallery was always Fluxus oriented, thanks to the late art dealer Emily Harvey. 
I thought I could bring together a ‘book’ by mail art genius Ray Johnson – his A Book 
About Death – and pay homage to Ray and Emily and all the artists and more around 
the world in a powerful exhibition.” That show was attended by several thousand people, 
all the work (artists submitted 500 printed or hand made postcard works each) was 
exhibited and given away free.
“Viewers to the exhibition were encouraged to gather up their own book by selected 
a work from boxes on the floor,” says Rose.  “It was very taxing to do so and took about 
an hour,” but that’s how the works – the limited edition books – were distributed.”  
Those complete ABAD books are now in the hands of about 100 artists, curators, 
collectors, and in the permanent collections of MoMA NYC, LACMA, (LA California and several art colleges), such as The Otis College of Art and Design, in LA, CA.  
One copy will be on view at the RCA Conwy. 
Since the 2009 exhibition more than 5000 artists have participated in the ABAD project 
and many have become curators themselves of the exhibition.  For the São Paulo 
exhibition at MUBE in Brazil, artist Angela Ferrera “curated” the NYC show with a beautiful music video as well as the museum exhibition. Ferrara’s ABAD video, 
along with others, and additional information about the ABAD project including posters 
and a full catalog of the works are viewable here:


History of the ABAD Wales Project

“When I saw the artist call from Matthew Rose circulating on the Internet for a work 
about death, I didn’t think I had anything to contribute,” recalls BenskinMesher.  
“But then something stirred and I create a work ‘the empty chair.’ That artist project continued and the ABAD project became a phenomena, and I carried on with the works combining it with curating the exhibitions here in Wales. It is an exhilarating and moving challenge.”Wales first showed ABAD, as it is known fondly known by participants, at MOMA in Macynlleth in 2010. 
This year The Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy, Wales has agreed to host the next chapter in October 2014. “The project,” adds BenskinMesher, “has become in some strange and wonderful way, A Book About Living.”
For more information, images and downloadables from the project, please see:  
A Book About Death, Wales: