DRUM CASKET is the marriage of casket and drum: a box for one person to lie inside as a group gathers to play percussion on the lid/drum head. This action is shared, not as a performance in the conventional sense, but as a fundamental experience of intention and energy leaving the group on the outside of the container and ultimately being received and absorbed by the person inside. Participants of these intimate gatherings are invited to take turns lying inside, playing for each other, and simply observing.
Drum Casket has evolved since the first construction and event in Columbus, Ohio in 2005. Originally it was entirely made of plywood like a cajon drum. Years later a similar plywood iteration was made for events in New York City at Amery's studio in Harlem and The Sanctuary of Hope in Ridgewood. Later versions of the Drum Casket include a design and build in Bamako, Mali—a collaboration with local furniture and drum builders. This version was the first to use cow hide, 3 sections, as the material for drum head. About a year after returning from Bamako to Ridgewood, NY, Amery built the most recent design pictured below—a simple wooden box with a beveled lid and a single bison hide drum head nearly 7' long. This Drum Casket traveled the US in the back of a 1968 Cadillac Hearse to small events at back yards, homes, galleries, museums, and public spaces.
The hole in the drum head is positioned above where the head rests and allows air and light to pass through. The person lying inside raises their hand through the hole to signal for silence. They rejoin the group outside and allow the the next person to enter.