No Ghost Just a Shell was created in 1999 by two French artists, Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno. They acquired the copyright for a manga figure called AnnLee (a.k.a. Annlee, or Ann Lee) – acharacter with only a physical description (a young woman with pointed ears, purple hair and eyes) but otehrwise no characteristics. Huyghe and Parreno have invited other artists to use AnnLee’s character in various productions that can be globalized in the No Ghost just a Shell project. During the course of the project, Parreno decided at one point to put an end to AnnLee and scripted her death. Joe Scanlan’s DIY is his contribution to the project. Originally conceived for Waste Management, an exhibition and catalogue organized by Christina Ritchie at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, in 1999, DIY was published by Imschoot Uitgevers in 2002 in an edition of 1,000 copies. The book was edited by Kurt Vanbelleghem and designed by Miko McGinty.
DIY presents—in extremely dry and methodical detail—a plan for how to go into any IKEA store in the world and buy materials with which to build your own coffin. As is the case with all Do-It-Yourself projects, some basic skills and tools are required. In the most basic sense, then, DIY is a shopping guide, a manifesto for how to get what you want from the world of commerce rather than having to accept what it wants give you, an epic tale about the transformation of mundane merchandise into a transcendental escape vehicle. DIY was the 65th artist’s book published by the esteemed Imschoot Uitgevers in Ghent, Belgium. It also features a guest appearance by AnnLee, a Japanese manga character owned, operated and ultimately put out of commission by Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno.
With this background, we can grasp the book’s design. First of all, the cover in IKEA colors and the logo show the intention to build soemthing (in this case, a coffin). The IKEA logo is modified to read “DIY”, using a different letter style, namely Helvetica Rounded, which is quite different from the original with its angled and pointed letters. The round letterforms give it a childlike look. Perhaps this is because AnnLee could be a young character, and this DIY design is intended for her.
At the end of the book, we better understand the death part of the piece with the last call and the photo of the coffin with two vases. The coffin was exhibited in a museum along with other pieces from the project. The piece is called Do It Yourself Dead on Arrival (AnnLee). The back cover shows a drill, which can also be seen as a pistol.