‘Coffin It Up’ Seeks to Transform Bad Things Into Music


A trio of Brooklyn College graduate students believe they can turn the collective unrest of the City into beautiful music.

Jared Mezzocci, David Gladden and Tara Gladden have constructed an enormous coffin, roughly eight-feet high by four-feet wide, and are calling on New Yorkers to place within the casket that which they want to see dead.

Intended to be a living work of art demonstrating that evil can be turned to good, the piece, entitled “Coffin It Up,” will be taken around the City so that those who come across it can write on its interior things they would like to see changed. At the end of its tour the coffin, will be sealed and turned into a cello-like instrument, to be played at an as-yet-determined concert venue. The idea, said David Gladden, is to turn negative energy into positive song.

“The most beautiful flower, the lotus flower, grows in the stinkiest, nastiest muck, so we don’t think that good things can only come out of good things. We think that art and beauty can come out of everything,” said David Gladden.

The casket started as a school project, inspired by the street theater of the 1960’s countercultural icons, the Diggers, but incorporates two video monitors broadcasting stylized images of politics, war, environment, and money.

“Coffin It Up” intends to give the general public a blank slate to voice the need for change, and the videos are meant to get people thinking about important issues before they take a marker to the casket.

“It’s kind of like a collective billboard for everyone,” said Mezzocci. “Coming into it we just kind of gave a blank slate to everyone, we had no idea what it would become. We were hoping for exactly what is happening, kind of a conversation within the coffin, to see what to bury.”

Its creators first revealed the casket to the public last week at the Anarchist Book Fair in the Village, where the coffin confronted visitors at the entrance of the event. Using magic markers, visitors scrawled a variety of pleas and causes on the coffin’s walls. One person called for an end to national borders, while another called for Americans to “smash Wal-Mart.” Sentiments to end nuclear proliferation and to impeach President Bush were also scribbled within the casket in permanent marker.

“It will hopefully bring together a kind of community of people who haven’t seen each other, but have seen each others’ causes,” said Mezzocci. “We created the platform, but everyone is its voice.”