Skull Project Poster
The Skull Project was a public art ritual in 2004 designed to commemorate everyone killed during the Iraq war. The public was invited to participate in the creation of skull eggs, which are a symbolic representation of the lives lost during that conflict. The skull eggs were meant to create a visual manifestation of these deaths – which, under pressure from the Bush administration, only appeared in our media as statistics.

The Skull Project asked each participant to paint the universal symbol of death (skull) on the universal symbol of new life (egg). This fusion created a paradox while it simultaneously satisfied the intention to commemorate. It is an in-between state, the place between life and death, which parallels our roles as participants in a democratic nation that had initiated a war many of us did not want.

The Skull Project enjoined each participant in a communal public ritual of understanding – of our civic interconnections and our responsibilities as citizens. The public was invited to meditate on the outcome of continued warfare by connecting casualty figures with a visual representation. Recognizing that these deaths had happened is the first step in investigating our communal responsibility for actions taken by our government that may not have had our consent.

The Skull Project first took place 11 October – 2 November 2004 in the cemetery yard at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery in New York City. During this time the public was invited to mound the skulls eggs into piles separated by nationality, as crossing national boundaries without consent is the essential act of making war. In three weeks, approximately 1059 individuals created 1500 skull eggs.

Painting
Finished Eggs
Painting
Egg Stacks
Placing Egg
One visual feature of THE SKULL PROJECT was that each person who participated created a skull egg that is unique to their own hand. Even if a participant is making more than one, each skull egg tends to be visually distinct. The resulting mound looks liked a pile of individuals, each skull egg as unique as the life lost it is meant to commemorate.

Group Painting

Examining Eggs