LAVA Visionary Paul Koudounaris signs his book The Empire of Death, and also select photos from the book will be on display. The work of several other artists will also be featured.
ABOUT: For centuries religious establishments constructed decorated ossuaries and charnel houses from human bone. These unique structures, which stand as masterpieces of art, have been pushed into the footnotes of history; they were part of a dialogue with death that is now silent. Dr. Paul Koudounaris completed a PhD in Art History at UCLA in 2004. His interest in the bizarre and suspicious led him to an extraordinary charnel house in the crypt under the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in the Czeck Republic town of Melnik. It was gritty and dirty, but contained an arrangement of bones that reflected both a beauty in artistic principles and an understanding of philosophy and theology. Upon discovering that the local hostel receptionist had no idea of its existence, Dr. Koudounaris set his sights on discovering how many more of these charnel houses might still be standing, eventually visiting, researching, and photographing charnel houses on four continents – plus countless others he found in historic documents, grande dames which had fallen by the wayside of the passing centuries. They are presented in his book, which not only recovers their history, but the history of the religious movement which gave birth to them.