vita
Wanting to make a public work that doesn't represent but is, to activate imaginations as opposed to exhibiting an imaginative work, to take myself out of the picture, to let the world in, inspired by experiences in Turkey where I encountered cemeteries that still functioned as public space (I once stumbled upon a Boy Scout meeting in a graveyard in Istanbul) and to evoke the beautifully detached Attic tombstone. The idea came that a cemetery is both a public and private space. I enquired and found the cemetery counselors (salesmen who know when to offer a hanky) where intrigued, they found a cheap plot, calculated a mortgage and that day one of them contributed the down payment.

Suddenly I was a land owner for a mortgage of $68.83 per month.6 x 3 x 9 feet down. Possibly the only piece of land I will ever own.
Being close to my house I abandoned my studio and came to the cemetery every day instead. I had begun.

At first I was sad about dead friends, fearful of my future, scared I was making dumb art. I attempted to keep the thought that if you could keep the thought of your own death at the front of your mind you would lead an exemplary life in the front of my mind. Increasingly in my day to day life, I would react to something with thoughts like how important would this or that be if I was about to die? Although in the background of my life's chatter I achieved a subtle change in emotional attunement. Then I started planting a garden and having busy things to do like erecting a sculpture.

When the stone went up I imagined it would be a mute, open possibility of self expression in a self created context instead passersby actually wrote on it. No one has been more surprised than me at people's willingness to participate. Suddenly I had to become a photographer, an archivist, a tour guide. In the field I act as mediator rather than creator. The spectator composes. I become the collector. The end product reflects on the situation of encounter and creates its own.

And I spend a lot of time in the cemetery…
While pondering relational esthetics and an art career I find my self in actuality confronted with bored children who write there name and RIP and after attempts at coaxing more from them, generally with little result, one day after blurting out that if an epitaph tells a persons accomplishments in life; in this situation it may also be a wish - a little girl scrawled under the ubiquitous RIP The President of the United States and I guess that's about as good as it gets theoretically speaking.
Joyce Burstein Vita joyceburstein@epitaphproject.com

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS, PROJECTS, AND PERFORMANCES
2002   SPACES, SPACE LAB, Cleveland, Ohio, "the epitaph project", interactive installation with video.
1991   THE LAB GALLERY, San Francisco, CA, untitled installation
1990   UPAYA, San Francisco, CA. "like a flame like a prayer like a bird", installation / performance

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS, PERFORMANCES
2005  THE SF ARTS COMISSION GALLERY, SF, CA, "In Passing: A Show about Death", "the epitaph project"
         DOMESTIC SETTING, LA, CA, "TINSEL TOWN TWO", "Moon in Hand" digital print
2004   DOMESTIC SETTING, LA, CA, "TINSEL TOWN", "Hi Moon" digital print
2003   DOMESTIC SETTING, LA, CA, "SEQUEL", "Parthenon east pediment after Carrey" sculpture
2002   SOCRATES SCULPTURE PARK, NY, NY, "View", "the epitaph project" interactive sculpture
           SUPERIOR "AN EXHIBITION SPACE", Cleveland, Ohio, "Four". Drawing.
2001   LAKEVIEW CEMETERY, Cleveland, Ohio, "Celebration of the Spirit" "the epitaph project"
1997   CANTOR ART GALLERY, Worcester, Mass." From Time To Time ", installation.
1996   PUSH ART SPACE, San Francisco, CA, "Burstein, Guyer, Reid, Van Dyke", installation.
1995   WALTER BERMAN GALLERY, Santa Monica, CA, "Mondo Lot", sound installation.
1994   CENTRAL PARK, New York, NY, "The Desk", performance sponsored by James Lee Byars.
1986   FORT MASON CENTER, San Francisco, CA, "I'll paint an angel when I see one", installation / performance.
1985   SAM WONG HOTEL, San Francisco, CA, "Hi", performance. sponsored by Marina Abramovik

PERMANENT INSTALLATIONS
HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY, Los Angeles, CA. "the epitaph project", interactive public sculpture
LAKE VIEW CEMETERY FOUNDATION, Cleveland, Ohio. "the epitaph project", interactive public sculpture
THE FIELDS SCULPTURE PARK, Ghent, NY. "the epitaph project", interactive public sculpture

AWARDS
2004   TRANSART, Book production grant
2003   NEW YORK FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS, Sculpture Fellowship
1999   THE POLLOCK-KRASNER FOUNDATION
1999   ADOLPH AND ESTHER GOTTLIEB, Emergency Grant
1998   THE INSTITUTE OF NOETIC SCIENCES, Arts and Healing Community Grant
1996   ART MATTERS INC., Fellowship

EDUCATION
1986   M.F.A., 1983 B.F.A. Sculpture, San Francisco Art Institute

PUBLICATIONS
2005   "the epitaph project" with text by Peter Lamborn Wilson.
2004   "Back from Space Lab 10 Years of Innovation 1994-2004" Spaces Cleveland, Ohio.
2001   "Celebration of the Spirit" LAKE VIEW CEMETERY FOUNDATION
           "Cortona International Print Symposium" THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
2000   "A Monument for Estonia", Kunstee Magazine, Tallinn, Estonia."Published proposal/essay with illustrations"
1997   "Time And Time Again" CANTOR GALLERY cover illustration
1995   "Mondo Lot" ROBERT BERMAN GALLERY

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
2003   "Sequel at Domestic Setting" Kristina Newhouse, Artnet Magazine, April 17 2003
2002   "Harmonized Rhythms of Sculpture" Morgan Pehme, The Queens Courier, May 22
            "Any last words? Art project extends a grave invitation" Dan Tranberg, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 31
2001   "New Views at Lakeview..." Dan Tranberg, Cleveland Free Times, July 25
           "Deathless Art in a graveyard setting", Steven Litt, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 16
1997   "In Good Time Artists Count the Hours and Minutes", Leon Nigrosh, The Worcester Phoenix, October 3
           "A Fine Time For a Plunge in the Fourth Dimension", Chris Tracey, The Crusader, September 26
1996   "Untitled", Harry Roche, San Francisco Bay Guardian, December 4 "photo"
1991   "Pick of the Week," Glen Helfland, San Francisco Weekly, October 9

SELECTED PRESENTATIONS/LECTURES
1995-2005 Hunter College ,NYC, Socrates Sculpture Park, NYC, IS 183 community arts program, Pittsfield, Mass, CA. College of Arts and Crafts, Art Center, Pasadena, CA, Hollywood Forever Cemetery" Dia de los Muertos" lA, CA, Cleveland Public Art, High school program, University of Southern California digital media and art department, Women's Alcoholism Center, S F, CA, San Francisco Art Institute, Larkin Street Youth Center, SF, CA, University of California, Berkeley, California Institute of the Arts.

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