Skulls Reign On the Street and In Art Shows, Threatening and Humble Reminders

Skulls. We see them on the streets and recently many at art fairs.

The Memento Mori of the streets, these skulls reminding us that one day we all will be dead. Every single one. These are occasional, unplanned in pattern, surprising in appearance on the public stage perhaps.

Andrew Schoultz at Volta New York 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

But in a culture that glorifies violence and guns in movies, television, video games, rock and roll t-shirts, backpacks… the sight of the skull is old school. Here on the streets there are one or two skulls, not like the thousands in an ossuary underground in the Paris Catacombes.

Stephen Wilson at Scope New York 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Possibly these skulls appear in artworks on the street as an omen; meant to shock, or frighten, induce dread. Certainly uniforms have carried logos and insignia with skulls- from Nazis to US Marines to Pirates of Penzance to Cypress Hill the images of skulls are more of a threat, a promissory note, an invocation of warrior status.

Mexicans, on the other hand, eat them as sugar cookies for celebrations set aside every autumn called Day of the Dead, where people make peace with the loss of love ones.

Guy Richards Smit at Spring Break Art Show, New York 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In the end, perhaps it is not the warlike associations. It may be the great leveling force of death, bringing every person to one level, that fascinates us. Regardless of where your body is buried, the rains will wash your bones into the oceans of time, and that is all you will be.

Maybe too it is healthy to keep these facts in mind despite all the drama, the tribulations, the wealth, the status, the suffering, the ignominy. Jim Morrison said no one here gets out alive, which is obvious, and funny as hell.

Here are some reminders of that fact on the street and elsewhere.

An unidentified artist in Hong Kong. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Scott Campbell at Scope New York 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Damien Hirst at Art Central Art Fair 2017 – Hong Kong. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Epic Uno on the streets of Brooklyn, NY. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

An MSK Crew member on the streets of Brooklyn, NY. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

An unidentified artist at Scope New York 2017 . (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Henry Hussey at Volta New York 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Niloufar Banisdr at Scope New York 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)