A Collaborative Conceptual Artist's Book. 268 pages, 19 images.
Station Hill Press, Barrytown, New York, in association with Ubu Gallery, NYC, 2017.
The art of the human image – the portrait – arose among our ancestors many millennia ago, serving a ceremonial and a memorial role in small human communities confronted with the ineffable mystery of death. If the images that our remote ancestors made might be seen as a desperate response against impermanence, they were, more importantly, a way keeping the dead among them, as a part of their everyday lives. And even as we have evolved and lost contact with its ritual or ceremonial power and purpose, the portrait has continued to exert a fascination that we are perhaps at a loss to comprehend.
The artist Heide Hatry has recovered, re-conceived, and fully realized the primordial force of this tradition by creating realistic portraits out of the cremated ashes of the departed person portrayed.
The results are reminiscent of ancient sacred and secular traditions and their complex, even mysterious function of capturing, enriching, or transforming human experience.
As she writes, all art is created from the ashes of experience, and always somehow not quite satisfactorily, we want it to be more; we want it to be life. In Icons in Ash, Hatry has both offered a profound solution to the inadequacy of art and poignantly conceded that it is inherent.
Icons in Ash includes seventeen of Hatry's portraits which have been encountered and enhanced by the essays of twenty-seven contemporary writers who explore the human relation to death in original and engaging meditations on the philosophy and psychology of death, death in art, religion, evolutionary thought, and social practice, the dead body, the relic, the phenomenon of mourning, and the notions of transformation and immortality.
Contributors include Michaël Amy, Hans Belting, Stanley B. Burns and Elizabeth A. Burns, Mark Dery, Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, Anthony Haden-Guest, Heide Hatry, Eleanor Heartney, Phoebe Hoban, Siri Hustvedt, Gavin Keeney, Thomas W. Laqueur, Deborah Lutz, Jonas Mekas, Lydia Millet, Rick Moody, Marc Pachter, Steven Pinker, George Quasha, Claudia Steinberg, Wolf Singer, Adele Tutter, Luisa Valenzuela, Peter Weibel, Linda Weintraub, Franz Josef Wetz, John Wronoski, and Naief Yehya.