David Maisel is a photographer I follow. He put together a fascinating project called Library of Dust recently. It’s coming to the UCR/California Museum of Photography on August 31, 2010. I plan to catch the show.
Library of Dust depicts individual copper canisters, each containing the cremated remains of patient from a state-run psychiatric hospital. The patients died at the hospital between 1883 (the year the facility opened, when it was called the Oregon State Insane Asylum) and the 1970’s; their bodies have remained unclaimed by their families.
FLYP did a profile of David Maisel in 2009. There is a video page two that is interesting.
I find the whole concept of anonymous canned human ashes to be a good metaphor for the existential futility and singular loneliness of life. Plus I think the photos are cool.