4D Final Project: Library Installation – Dead Kings/Staring Back

For this project I decided on installing a set of 3 posters in the library, each being a digital collage of various death masks from different eras. The Artist statement is as follows:

Dead Kings/Staring Back

Lu Jia Xian

Collage, Digital Print


Dead Kings/Staring Back is a project that aims to help viewers re-evaluate their use of the ADM Library space. A common observation is that most students do not use the materials within the library shelves unless they need it for a research paper (read: Art History), and the overall underemployment of a very rich resource.

The 3 posters scattered about the shelf area are each a digital collage of various death masks and eerie busts from various cultures, from Agamemnon and Tutankhamen’s masks to those of Pacal the Great and Oliver Cromwell – to name a few. The use of death masks from Art History-related cultures is intentional: is the space dead, save when we need to access the materials for a project or assignment?

One of the most common features of death masks is that of closed eyes; but what happens when those eyes open, what happens when they stare back? Dead Kings/Staring Back means to cause unease in its viewers; to expose them to the phenomena of being studied by something they presumed to be dead or inert. By the same means, the contents within the shelves still have a necrotic life of their own; while much of it hails from dead civilizations and cultures, they still project power and relevance into the modern day, and we would be wise to take time to study them more intently.

The three pieces in their digital state:

DeathMask1 V2

The Death Masks of Oliver Cromwell, Pacal the Great, and Bronze Bust of Augustus Caesar


Death Masks of Napoleon, Agamemnon, and King Tutankhamun.


Death masks of George Washington, Mary Queen of Scots, and bust of Nefertiti.

The pieces as they were installed in the Library:

20160411_135549 20160411_135556 20160411_135606 20160411_135611 20160411_135707 20160411_172421

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