Towards the end of his life, Jones was fascinated by the idea of detournements. He described these as “appropriations of established images and symbols of authenticity re-purposed for play - especially, philosophical play.” These stamp detournements represent his efforts towards this end.
Each of these images was created by Jones to function as an actual stamp. From 2003 to 2005, he mailed out hundreds of cards and letters with these stamps placed beside those from the U.S. Post Office. Many of the recipients never realized that they were receiving miniature works of transgressive art. We have digitally enlarged these here for exhibition purposes.
In much of his published work, there is frequent reference to the relationship between the word and the image. For each of these images, Jones had a particular selection of text to be associated with it: quotes from his own work and those of others, fragments of poems, sermons and epigrams. He insisted these were vital to accessing the “interior meaning of each image.”
It is interesting to note that much of the work from mid-2004 shows distinct difference from the earlier images: stamp edges are trimmed, the references are more cryptic, and certain obsessions are more apparent. This was the direct result of a severe head injury Jones suffered after being struck by a car. None of the later 2004 images were ever sent out. This is the first time they have been exhibited in public.
This selection of the Archives is on display at The Black Drop Coffee House in Bellingham, Washington through the month of March.
Charles “Bonesy” Jones (August 6, 1945 to November 15, 2005) was an American graphic artist, writer and poet. Reputedly born in Little Hope, Texas, much of his early life is shrouded in mystery and misinformation.
In 1962, Jones was graduated summa cum laude from the Steiner College of Ontological Osteology where he studied Legerdaemonic Epistemology and Allegorical Cetology. He then briefly attended the University of Oxford, but left after a dispute with one of the Dons over the Nature of the Hesychast Controversy. From 1965 until 1972 he lived in an international art colony north of Abiquiu, New Mexico, working as a abstract painter and a poet, receiving some money from his family. There, he carried out anthropological research with the Penetintes and was involved in several controversial crucifixions. In 1973, he traveled to Mt. Athos in Greece where he studied the teachings of Theophan the Recluse under the guidance of Archimandrite George, Abbot of Holy Monastery of St. Gregorious. He returned to the United States in 1983, settling in Austin, Texas, operating a small bookstore near the University for many years.
Just after the first of the year of 2005, Jones was struck by a car while riding his bike home one night. He suffered extensive head injuries. Shortly after, he began to experience selective retrograde amnesia and a progressive anomic aphasia (grammatic, but empty, speech). In October of that year, realizing he did not have long to live, he asked me to assist him in the journey back to his “spiritual
home.” He died beside the fire under the full moon of November 15th in the hills above the Chama River in New Mexico, not far from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. His last words were: “In the end, these bones...” - as fitting an epitaph, at least to my mind, as any Japanese Death poem.
I knew Jones for almost 20 years. No one has had a greater influence upon my life. As much as he prepared me over the years for “the day the bones step out of the skin,” it still shocks and saddens me in every hour to realize that he is no more. The absence of his burning presence will haunt me for the rest of my days.
The words that I have collected around these images are like vultures following the living presence into the desert. The language has no hope of feeding upon this flesh. My desire is that they will merely trail along behind the images, occasionally circling, never descending. They are not captions. They are not descriptions. They would not exist without the images. And the images will always endure beyond the predatory attempts of language to grasp hold of their manifold meanings.
Benjamin stated that “at the base of every work of art is a pile of barbarism”. If we are to take this as fact, then most of what is called art in our culture is mostly a radical turning away from the pile of bones at the barbaric base, in short: kitsch. As such, the range of response we might have for something as terrible as the death of God has become epitomized by a generic Hallmark card expressing sympathy through the a soft focus photograph of a kitten on a pillow.
Clearly, the vocabulary, the imagery, must be extended.
- Charles “Bonesy” Jones
Ich fürchte, wir werden Gott nicht los, weil wir noch an die Grammatik glauben.
[I fear we will never be rid of God as long as we still believe in Grammar.]
It was the expressed will of Mr. Jones that the Digital Archive is under my custodianship and that I have full right to display and/or present any work from this archive in any manner that I see fit.