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Home » 2005 News & OpinionsAugust 2005 » Memento Morbid

Memento Morbid

I’m unsure how to feel about Daniel Edwards’s exhibit at First Street Gallery in Chelsea entitled The Ted Williams Memorial Display with Death Mask from The Ben Affleck 2004 World Series Collection. I don’t condone censorship, so I’m not calling for the exhibit to fold. Perhaps it is an opportunity to explore the way we build myths around our cherished heroes such as Williams.

Most unsettling is that the authenticity of the mask is not made evident; the press release is unclear as to whether the death mask was actually cast from Williams’s head. The mask will be displayed alongside actual memorabilia, so it is swathed with an air of genuineness. The announcement plays on its intended audience’s uneasy feeling of tension between the macabre need to know if the mask is real and the desire to maintain a modicum reverence for someone no longer with us. More than anything, however, I think it merely prolongs the circus surrounding the circumstances of his final resting place, which has been anything but.

The man had his faults, there is no doubt about that. The almost hagiographic treatments of his exploits after his death are at completely at odds to the sideshow happenings since his passing. I only hope that the years following Williams’s death will erode the dross of hyperbole and desecration and bring us to a more intimate understanding of the man in all his intricacy.

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