18th and 19th century necropolitan models of cemetery design and practice have created problems for us in the 21st century. Notably, cemeteries in major cities are literally running out of space, while those traditional burials that do take place continue to waste resources on a vast scale. In this video, Sandy Gibson of Better Place … Read moreBetter Place Memorial Forests
Here’s a colorful and cheerful website devoted to El Dia de (los) Muertos, perhaps the world’s most colorful and cheerful thanatocentric celebration. As a child in Wellington, New Zealand during the 1970s, I was hardly aware of Latin American culture other than via Spanish-language segments on Sesame Street. That said, I seem to recall first … Read moreThe Day of the Dead
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?
A short 2014 documentary on the history of (and modern practice of creative memorial at) London’s once-forgotten Cross Bones Graveyard. Since the time this video was produced, there have been considerable developments in connection with Cross Bones. Check out the Friends of Cross Bones website for much, much more on this poignant and inspiring story.
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”