What Was Made Before After Life

I was standing in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam fascinated with Tree Roots, supposedly the last painting Van Gogh made before he died. At the same time, I was responding to a brief that asked me to define what an “interlude” is through developing a process of inquiry. In thinking about a last artwork through the framing of an “interlude”, I came up with this concept: the last thing someone makes before they die is an interlude between all of the work they have made on earth and all of the work that they might make after life. This last piece of creative expression in life is a transition between the work that’s been done and the work still to come. Or, if you do not believe in an after life, the life that work continues to live on earth.

Set 1 of the What Was Made Before After Life volumes examines forty pieces of last artworks made by different artists from 1979 to 2018 in five volumes that follow different parameters. Set 2 examines a speculative set of forty pieces of future artworks created in the after life by those same forty artists from 2019 to 2058. What Was Made Before After Life considers the question of how to perceive a lifetime of work on earth through the lens of a possible eternity to spend making art.

Photos by Stanley Cheng