Amanda Palmer is a performer, director, composer and musician who is best known for her role as front woman and keyboardist for internationally acclaimed punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls. In 2008, Amanda released Who Killed Amanda Palmer, her debut solo album which was produced by Ben Folds. Current projects include a fine art photography book on which she is collaborating with esteemed author Neil Gaiman and a WKAP companion songbook, as well as a WKAP DVD (out 6/16/09). Amanda recently wrapped up a year-long tour that took her through sold out performances in Europe, the US, Australia, & New Zealand and most recently her epic set at Coachella. Live highlights of the last year include two epic performances with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall, residency at the Famous Spiegeltent at Edinburgh, and a critically acclaimed performance at the 2009 Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival.
I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman: I read his books, read his blog, and follow his Twitter feed. So when he starts mentioning this Amanda Palmer chick, links to her music videos, and extols both her talents as a musician and her creative nature in general, I decided I should pay attention. I did a little research of my own, learned more about Miss Palmer, but ultimately I was still left with the one question we all have, the only question that matters: who killed Amanda Palmer?
This book is beautiful in a very dark, sometimes disconcerting way. Palmer and Gaiman may be two of the people most suited to creating works of twisted fantasy, where everything reminds you of classic or urban myths but is just a tiny bit off, just a little skewed. They've teamed up, along with talented photographers, to create a book that's breathtaking and eerie.
It's easy to say, "Let's do a whole book of photos of me, only dead." In fact, it's downright narcissistic. Yet the sheer variety of ways in which Amanda Palmer dies is disturbingly fascinating. Some of them are conventional, others are highly improbable; all of them look real. This book confronts that essential part of our humanity that's dark, the part of us that scares us--not everything is sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.
Gaiman's accompanying text is, as always, imaginative. My favourite, accompanying a photo of Amanda Palmer killed by a typewriter falling on her head, is the conversation between a novelist and his companion in a hot-air balloon.... Interspersed with Gaiman's short tales are the lyrics to the album of the same name. Although I haven't bought the album yet, anyone who has will treasure this book, if only as an illustrated lyrical companion. It is, of course, so much more.
I think the best phrase to summarize my review would be this: I bought it for the Neil but stayed for the Amanda.
This book is one of those that is incredibly hard to describe in review form. So lets start with the facts:
1. It's a companion to Amanda Palmer's new CD of the same name.
2. It has words accompanying each of the pictures she has had taken of herself, written by Neil Gaiman.
3. She's dead in all the pictures, different ways and states each time.
So that's the basics, but it leaves me wondering how to describe it to you, if I call it beautiful, it disregards the visceral pictures, the gritty, horrifying pictures of Amanda bloodied in a shopping trolley, or left in a dark alley.
If I say it's horrifying, it denies the superb photography of the book, the cadence of Neil's fitting words, the attention to detail in the pictures, and the shots where Amanda lies serene and peaceful.
The only thing to do then, is describe it as this: spectacularly unique. Combining the lyrics of her latest album, with short stories by Mr. Gaiman, and photos that seem to have been collected over many times and situations, Who Killed Amanda Palmer is both frightening, absorbing, artistic, and just a little fascinating. My personal favourite is the story of the author in the hot-air balloon, where I actually sat amazed at how well the picture and the text sat together as a compliment. It's not a book for everyone, but for Gaiman fans it's a definite read, For Palmer fans it's a sure-bet for a look. And for fans of both - it's an absolute must buy.
As a photography book designed to supplement a new album this book seems more like an extension of the same art project as if they grew up around each other organically. Perhaps it is Ms. Palmers' history as a performance artist that makes her a perfect model for being photographed as deceased in elaborate and evocative positions and locales. Doubtless she is enjoying herself, which eliminates any misogynistic or overly macabre connotations. She is not advocating murder; maybe the death of a persona over and over constantly remaking and destroying yourself or simulacra of yourself as an image. The images are sinister, don’t get me wrong, but Palmer clearly is a willing participant. Some shots seem to have taken careful preparation and planning, others seem more casual. As if she was out with friends and said to them "Hey, this would be a nice spot for an 'AFP is Dead' shot." She is lying partially naked in a field with golfers in the background, or on the gravel in some English public park. "Hey, get a shot of my foot in the foreground with Notre Dame and those Chinese tourists in the back." Others involve fake blood and other makeup effects, props, decaying rooms full of detritus; obvious stagecraft. In some photographs she is not the center of attention and you have to look around for her, as if she was Waldo's bloated corpse.
Often Palmer sings her songs with ether a rapid-fire pacing or slow drone, so it is a treat to have them on paper to explore at your leisure. Having images to go along with the songs gives you more insight into the artist's vision.
Neil Gaiman's fiction serves as pleasant accompaniment to the images. Most of the photographs seem to beg for a story to go along with the murder and he knows how to add mystery, humor, and a supernatural quality to the pictures. The concept is not new, I know of a book with the fiction of Harlan Ellison accompanying his favorite fantasy artist, but it is welcome in this book and does not seem forced. Also, micro fiction is a rather maligned genre and I am glad to see it showcased here, because Neil does it well.
Amanda has striking beautiful looks and an attractive body, and an impeccable taste in wardrobe, but it is still strange to see it mangled and bruised page after page. There is sentuality and sexuality here but it does not leave the ashen aftertaste of a snuff film. I would not have crafted this book to order but I did enjoy receiving it as a gift.
This is not pornography or the product of a sick deranged mind. I can clearly see the artistic merit and cathartic release. I would say this is a must for any Dresden Dolls or Amanda Palmer fan, worthy for consideration for the Gaiman completes, or for the lover of photography. But don’t leave it on your desk at work or on your coffee table unless you have open minded Bohemian friends. A cursory glance by the squeamish or prudish could lead to some misunderstandings and awkward silences or excuses.
So who killed Amanda Palmer? I think if you really take it all in objectively you will see that we all had the motive, means, and opportunity and all share jointly in the guilt and blame.
sempre um trauma viciante ver um trabalho de Amanda Palmer. bela participação de Neil Gaiman e de alguns colegas de trabalho dela. nem sei o que dizer sobre ensaio de Amandas mortas por ai em poses e composições diferentes... umas bem realistas... umas com pedestres assustados ao lado... haha...
I've always kinda liked Neil Gaiman -- the mythic status of his work and his crush-inducing good looks certainly don't hurt -- but I think it's taken until the age I am now to truly appreciate his writing. His sense of humour is very quiet and subtle, for one, and I think I'm only just beginning to realise that it's a thread running through even the most apparently 'serious' of his works. I received Who Killed Amanda Palmer as a Christmas present from my partner, who'd gotten through all of his Christmas shopping in one day and surprised me with a discounted display copy of this that he found in Forbidden Planet International. I remember that I'd wanted to go to the launch/signing there, as Gaiman and Palmer had rather been icons of my adolescence, but my listening to Amanda Palmer's music has dropped off over the past few years (although I enjoyed Theatre Is Evil), so that it took me a while to get around to reading my copy. It doesn't take long to read, and while I find myself less often in the mood for Palmer's ramped-up punk cabaret vision, this is an artist whose work is maturing, of which this oddball little book is further proof.
The tunes and the passion in Amanda Palmer's music always made me want to decode her lyrics, many of which still elude me in meaning today, and leave me with a feeling of "This is great! But I can't quite pin down exactly what she intended?" Even at the height of my Amanda Palmer fandom, sure, I'd like to meet her at a book signing, but I still didn't really get the enormous joke that she seemed to think making an entire book of faking her own death through photographs was. I was pleasantly surprised.
Read cover to cover through Gaiman's accompanying short stories, there's something really funny (as in funny ha-ha, although strange-funny works as well) about this book. Maybe part of it is the onlookers and passers-by in many of the photographs as they glance at, miss or ignore the motionless, sometimes bloodied body of a woman sprawled of slouched in a public place. As in her real-life music performances, Amanda Palmer often appears here in her 'underwear-as-outerwear' stockings-and-corset ensembles, which begs the question: what do we imagine the passers-by in some of these photographs think they are seeing? A sex worker, ambiguously passed-out, battered or dead? It gives the lie to the joke: the world is full of murdered girls, sex workers especially, and although the book is titled "Who Killed Amanda Palmer", the character of Amanda Palmer seems to take on a few different roles in both the text and images. In many of these photographs her body looks forgotten, both by the public and by the comical crudeness with with her body has been hidden, as though by a murderer half-heartedly covering their tracks (It doesn't matter all that much, she's only a whore, whores get murdered all the time, and they're soon forgotten...) The blood and lingerie seem to dare the viewer to find glamour or erotic allure in the death of a young woman. What should be an exercise in bad taste comes off as strangely touching. On Gaiman's side, it's clear from the first piece of prose that this is also a love letter to Amanda Palmer, this person who shares with Gaiman that much-satirised Goth need to make friends with death, to make art about death as a way of understanding death, but, perhaps more cryptically, to laugh at death as well.
"I remember the candlelit vigils, the shrines, dozens of them, in cities all over the world, spontaneous demonstrations from people who no longer had an Amanda Palmer. They lit candles and left behind telephones, scalpels, exotic items of underwear, plastic figurines, children's picture books, love."
It's a fantasy, a tender one because, whether your loved one is a rock star or 'just another dead woman', the inner world stops for us when the beloved dies, and our love makes us disbelieving that the wider world does not stop with us in grief. It's like the pop song goes: "The revolution won't be televised, and neither will your death". Thanks, James, for my battered copy (limited to 10,000 copies, I realised when I sat down to read it-) of this book.
Honestly, this book is exactly why I love Amanda and Neil as artists.
It's a 120-page book filled with photos and stories chronicling the various deaths of Amanda Palmer. The photographs range from darkly comical (Amanda dressed as a German beer garden waitress, with a clarinet stuck down her throat) to genuinely disturbing (Amanda hung from a child's swingset, while a child happily swings next to her)
The stories are brief, and few in number, but they show Neil Gaiman doing what he does best - sometimes writing realistic macabre stories, sometimes adding in odd twists and elements of mystery and fantasy. The combined story/photo elements also work extremely effectively - my personal favourite is a story recounting how a failed writer was pressured by his wife to throw his typewriter out of their hot air balloon... followed by a photograph of Amanda Palmer, dead, her head smashed by a typewriter.
Part of me wishes there were more stories - almost all of them feel like they would have some wonderfully Neil Gaiman back story to them. But some of them (like the aforementioned swingset photo) stand so beautifully alone that any words added to them may in fact detract from the photography itself.
Amanda Palmer is a true renaissance woman and this collaborative effort (in which she mostly contributes her rather lively presence as a corpse in all sorts of weird, puzzling situations) shows her non-musical talents at their best. This book is an amazing companion to her debut solo album, which is also a remarkable work of art. The pictures could be described as a loosely tied photographic essay, as a visual mystery novel which demands the reader to creater her or his own stories... in the manner that Neil Gaiman (Ms Palmer's associate in more than one way... I wish they could create some kind of punk-cabaret opera) has done in the rather too few short stories that accompany some of the pictures: the one explaining why one of the pictures shows Amanda Palmer dead with an old typewriter where her head should have been is my favourite. Naked faux corpses, unshaven femal armpits and too many garbage cans and black plastic bags...
I've been waiting for this to come through ILL for a long time & now I'm kind of sad that they bothered. How many pictures of AFP sprawled on the ground with eyes open, mouth open, not looking particularly dead can one person look at? Turns out, at least as far as this person is concerned, maybe three or four until I lose interest. A few of the writings/photos sync up really well (particularly The Boy's Room which is like a short, sweet, macabre punch in the face), but in most cases the results are lackluster. Most of all, this books smacks of bad karma to me. I guess the point of the exercise is to "kill Amanda Palmer so she lives forever" as Neil Gaiman writes in the beginning of the book & also the back of the album, but to me it just seems needlessly, ridiculously gruesome to say, cram your fake bloody self into a shopping cart so someone can take a picture of your imaginary death.
Bought for me by Lisa, and autographed via her by Mr. Gaiman and AFP themselves. I need to look at this book the next time I tell Lisa she's shunned. Judging by past actions, this should occur before the end of the week.
The photographs in this book are AMAZING. Serious visual orgasm. Amazing to look at not just because guessing how she died in each scene is fun, but because the setting of each death is so eye grabbing. I think the majority of them can be viewed over and over, and you see something different each time.
The stories written by the fantastic Mr. Gaiman are so perfect. I can envision him seeing the pictures, and the stories just coming to him. Fantastic.
I've been meaning to review this book for a while. It's a strange sort of project, I guess: it's a collection of photographs of Amanda Palmer pretending to be dead. Some of them are gory, most of them are weird, some of them are pretty funny. Or perhaps that's Neil Gaiman's influence, since short stories and such by him are included.
The book is a companion to AFP's album, so it also has the song lyrics. Handy for someone like me, who can never pick out lyrics.
I don't have a coffee table to put it on at the moment -- and I think my family would be a bit freaked out by it -- but it's a well done project, and something I'll keep.
I am a fan of Amanda Palmer as a creative innovator. However, one thing bothers me about this book: The idea of photographing oneself in various dead poses is a concept first brought to life by German-born, Brazil-raised artist Janaina Tschape in a remarkable 2002 French exhibition called "100 Little Deaths." http://www.janainatschape.net/100-lit... Now, Tschape's images are unaccompanied by stories, that is true. However, with all due respect, Ms. Palmer's entire idea appears to take direct inspiration from Tschape's unique earlier project. Is it mere creative coincidence? That happens. If not, it's appropriate to at least give artistic credit where it is due.
My seven-year old saw this book displayed atop my bookshelf and wanted to look at it. Um…. Tried to carefully flip to the more decent pics of a dead Amanda Palmer, but let’s face it, I feel like a necrophiliac in not just owning this book, but liking it, too. Amanda Palmer (and Neil Gaiman) are among my favorite artists, but they’re not for everybody. My son, however, was definitely intrigued. I hear him building with LEGO right now. Please don’t let it be an oven with a mini-fig’s head in it.
I've listened to the companion album dozens of times and only learned of this book recently when listening to AFP's The Art of Asking. This is an interesting collection of photos but they seem to get a little repetitive in places. I enjoyed reading the short bits of fiction, presumably written by Neil Gaiman.
I bought this being a fan of Neil Gaiman after reading his blog. I admit to not knowing anything about Amanda Palmer and wasn't familiar with her music but this sounded interesting. A collection of photos of a dead Amanda Palmer, realistic, unflinching, evocative and quite beautiful at times. Inter-spaced throughout are short stories and poems by Neil Gaiman, likewise with a haunting tragedy about many of them. Others downright hilarious and guaranteed to ring a smile. The pictures complement the words which complement the pictures and it ultimately makes for a nice book to have and hold and read.
I'm going to to see Amanda shortly on her tour in New Zealand and I'm looking forward to it.
Edit: I've since seen Amanda at Al's Bar in Christchurch and she put on a great show plus afterwards hung around for chat, photos and signings so my edition now has a personalisation in gold marker pen. Awesome.
I'm proud to say Who Killed Amanda Palmer? is my very first--very unconventional--coffee table book.
Full of photos of "dead" Amanda Palmer, this book somehow manages to be gorgeous and morbid, funny and heart-breaking all at the same time. Both the photos and the stories that accompany them continue to resonate long after the initial reading. Unfortunately, there are fewer stories than I expected. I really wish Gaiman had written more, mostly because they are great, but also because the photos leave me with unanswered questions. I may write my own stories to match some of the photos. After all, when faced with loss, maybe we all write our own tales in an effort to make sense of things.
In any case, with only 10,000 copies of the book in print, this is a must-have for Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman fans alike.
I love this book, for so many reasons. I love the album "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" and this is a companion art/photography book with stories written by other than Neil Gaiman himself.
I love interesting photography, and the macabre studies of Amanda Palmer dead are fantastic.
The stories are quirky, interesting and downright funny at times.
I recommend this book to fans of Amanda Palmer, more so I recommend the album. Go, listen. It's fantastic and one of my favorites to write to. I wrote "Inked" pretty much solely to "Who Killed Amanda Palmer," and because of her strong songwriting and lyrics it was often that extra kick I needed when I ran in to writer's block.
I forgot to add this book when I got it last fall! The only reason I remembered was because I was looking up other works by Gaiman.
I have no shelf for this book -- I have no idea what could possibly label it. I bought it because I'm a big fan of Gaiman and a friend had given me Palmer's solo CD. I'm not really a fan of Palmer, truth be told. I definitely prefer Tori Amos, more, but I do like how Palmer seems very open and honest through the few entries blogs of hers I've read and the photography in this book. Gaiman's "captions" (?) or lines go well with the pictures and her lyrics. It's quite imaginative, I'll give it that!
Who Killed Amanda Palmer? is a glorious, rich photo essay with accompanying text and lyrics from the album of the same name. The pieces flow well, one into the other, leaving distinct impressions of each "death" as something unique and interesting. This is a book I look forward to picking up and reading again, finding something different each time. While it ties into the album, it definitely stands alone as its own work of art.
Well this collection of photographs and poems was pretty strange. Interesting in some respects, but strange. Even though the photos are all of dead people (figuratively obviously) they're at least of high quality and the idea behind them is quite interesting. A photo says a 1000 words, but each of these photos tells the end of a story, and they hint at the rest of the unknown story, so you're getting quite a bit more than you bargained for.
I adore this book. The pictures varies from innocent, beautiful, to slightly disturbing. But as a person who is tw'd by blood it is just right to appreciate as art. With Neil Gaiman's words (or lack of) each picture contains a potential of endless stories and possibilities. It contents a mind as you study them. Got the book from interlibrary loan. Wish I can get a personal copy to flip through whenever I listen to the album.
The photos are sometimes gorgeous, sometimes disturbing and sometimes a little on the 'meh' side of things. The short stories are for the most part fascinating, and I am a hopeless fangirl of both Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman, so how could I not like this book? I dragged my copy all the way from NYC to Sweden after all...
Equal parts momento mori coffee table book, poetry collection, and Where’s Waldo? WKAP is a collection of photographs, each featuring singer Amanda Palmer posing as a corpse. Some of the pictures are accompanied by stories writted by master story teller Gaiman. Others have lyrics or poetry as accompaniment. Sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing.
What a great collaboration of art. I think some someones had too much fun making it and I have too much reading and look at the "evidence" loved this book love the people who made it. The is a Cd of music the should accompany it.
Amanda has been taking photos of herself for years as a corpse. Neil's stories decorate her photos perfectly. I pre-ordered the book before it was ever completed due to it's limited run. If anyone wants to borrow it locally, let me know.
This book is very inventive. I love that Neil Gaiman used the pictures as inspiration to write short stories revolving around them. The pictures are provocative and the stories are amazing. This is a must read for every fan of Neil Gaiman or Amanda Palmer.