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Von Lintel Gallery to Show "Library of Dust: Photographs by David Maisel"
David Maisel, “Library of Dust 1470”, 2005. C-print, 64 x 48 inches.

NEW YORK, NY.- In its first solo exhibition in New York City, David Maisel’s "Library of Dust" will be on view at Von Lintel Gallery (520 West 23rd Street) from January 21 through February 27, 2010. The photographs in this acclaimed series depict strangely beautiful copper canisters, each containing the cremated remains of an individual patient from an Oregon psychiatric hospital. The canisters are blooming with colorful secondary minerals as the copper has oxidized and undergone physical and chemical transformations. Each pattern of corrosion is unique, some resembling otherworldly landscapes that recall Maisel's renowned aerial photography. Sublimely beautiful yet haunting, these enigmatic photographs can be seen as meditations on issues of matter and spirit.

In "Library of Dust", Maisel investigates a zone bordered by ethics and aesthetics. The existence of some 3500 canisters of cremains was revealed by the Oregon State Hospital in Salem in 2005. Within the canisters were the remains of the patients who died at the hospital between 1883 – the year the facility opened, when it was called the Oregon State Insane Asylum – and the 1970s. Although the existence of the unclaimed canisters was not divulged for more than a century, they have continued to have a life of their own. "Library of Dust" offers a kind of resurrection of these individuals by giving them visual form once again. The hospital (also the site of the film 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest') is now being rebuilt with funds that were allocated after the Library of Dust project brought the existence of the canisters to a wider audience.

'Library of Dust' (Chronicle Books), the monograph that accompanies the exhibition, features essays by Maisel, Geoff Manaugh, Michael Roth, and Terry Toedtemeier. The New York Times called the book “a fevered meditation on memory and loss.” In 2009, the New York Institute for the Humanities organized a symposium inspired by this remarkable photographic excavation of a warehouse of ashes otherwise lost to time.

David Maisel (b. New York, NY, 1961) is a photographer and multimedia artist based in the San Francisco area. He is the recipient of a 2007 Scholar/Artist Residency from the Getty Research Institute and a 2008 Artist Residency from the Headlands Center for the Arts. Maisel has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Opsis Foundation, and was a finalist in 2008 for both the Alpert Award in the Visual Arts and the Prix Pictet in Photography.

His work is represented in major public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. Maisel’s photographs have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe, and Asia. His first book, The Lake Project (Nazraeli Press), was selected as one of the Top 25 Photography Books of 2004 by the critic Vince Aletti.

Nazraeli also published Maisel’s book 'Oblivion', (2006), and 'Cascade Effect', (2008). More about David Maisel:

Von Lintel Gallery | "Library of Dust" | David Maisel | Oregon State Hospital |

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