Death + Art / Architecture Death + Crime Death Ethics

Charles Bowden on Juarez

Dreamland: The Way out of Juarez
On The Media (June 4, 2010)

Earlier this week I wrote about the drug-cartel murders in Juarez, Mexico, and mentioned Charles Bowden, a journalist who has been covering the situation for over a decade. He recently spoke with On The Media about a new book, Dreamland: The Way Out of Juarez, a mix of journalism and evocative, literary expression with haunting illustrations by Alice Leora Briggs.

They also discuss corruption in both the Mexican and U.S. governments for allowing the cartel to continue, along with criticism of the American press for poor coverage on the topic. Do have a listen — with his gravelly voice and poetic language, Bowden is a trip. A few quotes from the podcast:

“The city is dying. Violence isn’t an incident anymore, it’s the actual fabric of life, it’s part of basic transactions there.”


“Mexico is collapsing. This is an exodus of human beings. This is a far more significant event for the future of the United States than the war in Iraq.”


“I’ve been trying to leave the border for years, because it’s damaging to me. Because I’m tired of dead people. But I haven’t been able to make it. I actually am by some standards a normal person. I feed birds. I garden. I like to cook. I don’t need corpses. … The way I was raised, you can’t know this kind of slaughter is going on… and pretend it’s not happening.”

Death + Art / Architecture Death Ethics

Quodlibetica: The Death Issue


Friend of Death Reference Desk, Collier White, has just published the second issue of his collaborative writing/arts/criticism blog, Quodlibetica. The theme? Death. Olly, you know how to get us.

The issue, or “Constellation”, as it’s called, describes the issue thusly:

Death is an ideal subject for art: marginalized, terrifying, and ultimate. In our second constellation, Quodlibetica looks at death in contemporary art and invites writers and artists to talk about death, art, and ethics: Jan Estep questions whether killing animals can ever be justifiable in the name of art, while Collier White visited with Pamela Valfer, an artist who draws and works with dead animals. Patricia Briggs explores death and violence, kept at a distance, in Roxanne Jackson’s work. In our portfolio, Ana Lois-Borzi explores death up close, in a grieving process mediated by art. Christina Schmid focuses on angels and road movies, staples of American folklore, in current and recent shows at Franklin Artworks and form + content, while Collier White’s reviews of Antichrist and The Box dive into pop culture’s lingering obsession with death.

Explore and engage with this well-written addition to the universe of arts criticism.

Image: Terike Haapoja. Photo by Jan Estep.