Artist Jim McKenzie’s process in sculpting Friends with Death is documented here via stop-motion animation. Reimagining the Reaper is important work as we move towards a more thanatopositive cultural outlook. In McKenzie’s vision, eternal Death pauses for a moment, entranced by the transient beauty of life in the form of a turquoise-winged butterfly. If you’d … Read moreJim McKenzie’s “Friends with Death”
The Reaper has seldom been portrayed so sympathetically as in this depiction by the Baltimore-based artist Robert Warren Harrison, whose work often touches on the theme of mortality.
By Tony Wolf The evocative yin-yang juxtaposition of flowers and skulls has a curious artistic history encompassing Catholic reliquary, 17th century Dutch vanitas painting, Mexican folk-art, Edwardian art nouveau and ’60s psychedelia. In combination, they offer a startling and provocative alternative to the black-cloaked, scythe-wielding figure of the Grim Reaper, whose imagery is inextricably tied … Read moreThe Skull and the Flower
The practice of thanatocentric pilgrimage is too often reduced to tacky “ghost tours” and their “true-crime” equivalent. Fortunately, the Atlas Obscura offers this open-ended list of alternative, off-the-beaten-track memento mori destinations, from Harry Houdini’s grave in Queens, NYC to the Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis in Uzbekistan.
In this short video, visualization artist Martin Janoušek evokes French architect Etienne-Louis Boullée’s imagined cenotaph for Sir Isaac Newton. Boullée designed the “Temple of Death” in 1785 and while it was never built, his pioneering vision has inspired generations of architects. Here’s further commentary on Boullée’s epic notion of memorial from Professor Erika Naginski of … Read moreEtienne-Louis Boullée’s “Temple of Death”
In July 2020 Joanna Ebenstein will be offering an 8-hour online course in the history, mystery and art of the memento mori: Death is the great mystery of human life. Each of us – barring some medical miracle – will die. Foreknowledge of our own death is a defining characteristic of humanity; the ancient Greeks … Read moreMake Your Own Memento Mori: Befriending Death with Art, History and the Imagination with Morbid Anatomy Founder Joanna Ebenstein
Picture a gently glowing city of the dead suspended beneath the Manhattan Bridge … It’s a bold and beautiful vision, conjured by Columbia University’s DeathLab project which aims to find creative solutions to a very practical problem. Traditional cemeteries are running out of space; what will we do with our dead?
The song that says it all … Here are the lyrics, in case you want to sing along: When I die I don’t want to rest in peaceI want to dance in joyI want to dance in the graveyardsThe graveyardsAnd while I’m alive,I don’t want to be aloneMourning the ones who came beforeI want to … Read moreDance in the Graveyards by Delta Rae
Here’s writer/performer Tracey Erin Smith’s podcast memoir of her death-positive production Memento Mori, which was staged for the 2014 Toronto Fringe Festival.
In collaboration with the good people at Reimagine’s Life, Loss and Love Festival, I will be giving an illustrated Zoom presentation on this theme on the evening of May 6th. Here’s the presentation description: “Remember death and therefore seize the day!” It’s an ancient and profoundly simple philosophy, but how can members of the emerging … Read more“Creating Countercultural Memento Mori”