Mark Memorial Day in a Different Way at the Rubin Art Museum
Memorial Day is the only national US holiday that focuses squarely on death -- remembering fallen members of the armed forces, to be exact, and many people will visit cemeteries and memorials this weekend in their honor.
If that's not quite your brand of vodka, might I suggest that you mark the holiday by visiting the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City? The museum is running a provocative exhibit called Remember that You Will Die, which upon reflection seems just right for such a holiday.
The RMA focuses on Himalayan art, and it's one of the city's newer museums -- it opened its doors in Chelsea in 2004. Remember that You Will Die exhibits 84 works of art and artifacts on the theme of death and the afterlife, gathering works from the East (Tibet) and the West, medieval and early Renaissance Europe along with one contemporary work, a video by American artist Bill Viola. I visited yesterday found a Tibetan apron made of bone and an English physician's walking stick topped with a skull pommel from circa 18th century to be particularly compelling.
The point of all of this death imagery isn't to be depressing or gratuitously macabre, it's to remind us that life is transient and brief -- and also that the life we live in the here and now has an impact on the afterlife, in its varying conceptions. If this intrigues you, be sure to pop pop down one floor to the Bardo exhibit, about the Tibetan conception of the afterlife.
The Rubin Museum of Art is at 150 W. 17th Street, New York, New York. Two-for-one admission deals are available. "Remember that You Will Die" runs through August 9th.