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Colby Caldwell Explains Immortality

Recently, photographer and former Corcoran professor Colby Caldwell emailed in response to our rundown of alum Jason Gubiotti’s show, War Paint. Included was a gem: the back story to the shared title “How to Survive Your Own Death (for CC)” which has been used, re-used, appropriated and copied by a group of Corcoran artists and writers from 1999 to 2014. To wit:

“The title ‘how to survive your own death’ was first suggested by a conversation between Bernard Welt and myself in 1999/2000 when I was beginning work on the corrupted file series. It comes from his poem of the same name:”


“We were discussing possible titles and he suggested several and I settled on ‘how to survive your own death.’ It worked perfectly for the concepts I wanted to suggest but not name. This would not be the last time Bernard would be responsible for suggesting titles for me. I subsequently reproduced this poem in the gun shy catalog in 2012. I had a podcast of Bernard reading this poem (listen here, ed.) that gallery visitors could listen to via a gallery-provided iPod during my 2006 show ‘small game’ at Hemphill. (I’ve made a point of including a ‘how to survive your own death’ piece in all my shows).”

“James Huckenpahler referenced it for a piece he made in 2004, entitled ‘how to fake your own death.'”


James Huckenpahler “how to fake your own death”


“Jason then referenced it for his own means and reasons for a painting in ‘War Paint.'”

“This has resonance for several reasons, two of which are as follows:”

“1. The three of us shared studio space at Woobyworld in 1998 – 2001. We also did a three person show At Troyer-Fitzpatrick in 1999.”

“I can only speak for me but both of these periods left an indelible mark on my work and indeed my very thinking about process.”

“2. Bernard Welt was an important and influential professor to all three of us when we were students at the Corcoran. James and I from 1987-1990, and Jason later. Bernard is still a very close friend to me now.”

Caldwell’s work is represented by HEMPHILL (DC), Gallery Seventeen  (Greenville, SC),
and Haen Gallery (Asheville, NC). You can find him at www.colbycaldwell.com .


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