Obituary Star

OBITUARY STAR: Manual for Death Assessment Screen Print and Risograph Artist book

Obituary Star: Manual for Death Assessment uses text and images from an early 80's midwestern hospice manual alongside corporate mission statements by prominent life insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

For big pharma and life insurance corporations, the assessment of life and the the likelihood of death are evaluated by trained actuarial scientists who specialize in calculating the ways that timing of loss and likelihood of risk affect a company’s profit margin. In the hospice world, a more holistic narrative emerges. This “Hospice Volunteer Training Manual” uses quotes and exercises to place emphasis upon the subjective values placed upon life experience and the social bonds we create with friends and family. This “soft” system of valuation becomes more concrete as the manual relates subjective life experience to the guaranteed pre-ordained destiny of eternal life in heaven.

These found texts, paired with intuitively produced images address the holistic and economic social valuations of life as it relates to death. These two economic stories are so completely obvious, oppositional and completely normalized in the everyday ways we speak of life and death. For the back cover, I have included the New York Times obituary of Dr. Raymond Sackler, the founder of Purdue Pharmaceuticals. Purdue is the company that produced the infamous opiate drug Oxycontin that is responsible for millions of drug overdoses in the United States and abroad. I see Dr. Raymond Sackler’s as an Obituary Star of sorts. His obit, written with such regal tone, is a dark emblem of the ways that society is unable and inept at evaluating life outside of its economic terms.