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Printed Matters – Jonathan Griffin: On Fire

Our struggle to take in the losses of the Ghost Ship fire, to hold up those who lost their lives, and to meet the needs and rights of those who remain foregrounds connection and community. KQED’s series of visual and textual remembrances shines a light on each person who died. It is with this focus on the people who make up our art world that we think back to Leila Easa’s review last spring, on our sister publication Art Practical, of Jonathan Griffin’s On Fire, his exploration of artists’ studios and fire. In her review, Easa wrote, “It may also be worth recognizing that there is danger in seeing disaster as merely allegorical.” Easa highlighted the importance of people over practice; it is people whom we mourn and as people that we do so, together in community.

Jonathan Griffin. On Fire, 2016. Courtesy of Paper Monument.

Jonathan Griffin. On Fire, 2016. Courtesy of Paper Monument.

Jonathan Griffin wants to make us all voyeurs. Or, at the very least, rubberneckers. Though he narrates his text with taste and sensitivity, it’s difficult to fully avoid a degree of morbid fascination with the stories On Fire tells, a fascination perhaps inherent in the subject. The book recounts the evolution of the artistic practice of ten artists who’ve experienced arguably the most devastating event an artist can face: the destruction, by fire, of their studio and the art housed within.

Read the full review here.

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