TitleThe Narrative Corpse posts on this blog are intended to continue indefinitely. As mentioned before it comes from the surrealist game of exquisite corpse adapted to the medium of comics and sequential narrative. I have seen different versions of the corpse game and Art Spiegelman’s The Narrative Corpse was one of them. I wanted to take this game further than simply a three panel comic and bring this idea into other media and venues. With this in mind, I brought it into the realm of exhibition at an art gallery. I have seen comics brought into the gallery before, in particular Krazy! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery a few years ago and more recently Art Spiegelman: CO-MIX: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics and Scraps also at the VAG. I had the opportunity to hear Art Spiegelman talk about the CO-MIX exhibition and he’s a little cynical about the whole idea, and if you’ve seen the Crumb documentary, it appears they share the same concerns. More on that in another post, sometime. I bring this up because I often find it problematic how comics are presented in the gallery setting. I seem to remember (couldn’t find the interview) Spiegelman speaking about his curatorial role in Krazy! as putting very unlike things together simply because of chronology or the fact that they appeared in the same comic form. The overall narrative is broken up and the pages are taken out of context. R. Crumb has received a similar treatment and it usually comes across as someone trying to validate the comic in the context of contemporary art, yet straying from what is vital to the art form. Most of you probably know Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-winning Maus by now and a considerable portion of the CO-MIX exhibition is devoted to putting up the original artwork up page by page across the gallery. No doubt comics as an art form are important, but often in terms of the larger narrative and medium. As I look at framed original comic pages on the wall I think how much better this is simply as a comic book. I’ve also seen writers put up pages of their book up in a gallery and enter the art realm, but something else is going on there that I won’t get into now. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of these exhibitions is seeing the working drawings and process, but it is a very different handling of other living artists’ retrospectives, which usually contain completed works from an artist’s career rather than excerpts with examples of the works in progress. What I wanted to do was have a comic style exhibition that played out closer to the medium of comics and stayed with the spirit of the corpse game. I wanted to get away from  simply sticking up framed comic panels on the wall and calling it art. The exhibition was painted directly to the wall continuing from where the last drawn panel left off. A Narrative Corpse eleven on this blog. Artists were given one day to finish there panels, leaving only the third panel for the next artist to continue from.

Installment one in progress
installment two in progress

Until finally after two weeks of installation, the gallery is transformed into a gallery-sized comic book.

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Great reception at the opening and for the run of the exhibition so far. I will post each installment individually as the A Narrative Corpse run and there is a Zine compiling all the installments so far. More details on that to come. At the end of this exhibition everything is painted over and the story continues from the last panel. From there I hope to continue in a few modes. As an ongoing paper project, explorations into other media such as animation, projection, 3d works, and into another gallery exhibition. More to come.