‘Being the Smoke’: One Man’s Choice to Be Cremated Under the Open Sky

Ruth Graham writes for the New York Times on Dr. Philip Incao’s cremation at Crestone, Colorado, currently home to the only outdoor funeral pyre in the USA: Dr. Incao’s ceremony began with family members and friends laying juniper branches and flowers on the body. Incense burned in a terra cotta pot tended by a volunteer, … Read more‘Being the Smoke’: One Man’s Choice to Be Cremated Under the Open Sky

Tributes to Robin Williams at the “Good Will Hunting” Bench (Boston Public Garden, 2014)

In the days and weeks following the tragic death of actor/comedian Robin Williams in August of 2014, many Boston-area fans paid tribute at the site of one of Williams’ most iconic scenes. His Academy Award-winning performance as therapist Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting (1997) included a moving scene in which Maguire quietly confronts his … Read moreTributes to Robin Williams at the “Good Will Hunting” Bench (Boston Public Garden, 2014)

“The Shrines on Boulevard Voltaire”

In 2015 Ian McEwan wrote for the New Yorker on vernacular shrines commemorating the victims of the terrorist mass shooting at the Bataclan Theatre: In the land of Voltaire, on the boulevard named for him, a general absence of religious belief hardly detracts from the seriousness of the shrines; why bend to a god that … Read more“The Shrines on Boulevard Voltaire”

“Oscar Wilde’s ‘Confraternity of the Faithless'”

My new article for OnlySky Media, Oscar Wilde’s ‘Confraternity of the Faithless’ discusses Wilde’s notion of “agnostic ritual” and its modern interpretation via the Oscar Wilde Temple art installation/secular ritual space: Inspired by the Aesthetic Movement of the late 19th century and subverting traditional Catholic iconography, the Temple evokes a kind of alternative reality in … Read more“Oscar Wilde’s ‘Confraternity of the Faithless’”

The Toxteth Day of the Dead

One of several distinctly English responses to the Dia de Muertos ethos – see also the Glastonbury Festival of Death and Dying – the Toxteth Day of the Dead is an initiative by musicians/culture jammers KLF (a.k.a. the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, the JAMs and the Timelords, among others). Here’s a BBC audio documentary … Read moreThe Toxteth Day of the Dead

Mortem: an Online Residency for Thanatocurious Artists

Mortem is a two-week long, daily online artist residency arranged by Ayatana’s Biophilium: The virtual residency will involve daily live video lectures with international death care and funeral industry workers, historians, biologists and artists on a range of death related topics, one tethered international field trip in a graveyard near you and several short one … Read moreMortem: an Online Residency for Thanatocurious Artists

Alter/Altar (Lower Manhattan, 2019)

Alter/Altar was an experiment in ephemeral public memorial art: It’s said that you’re a New Yorker when that which is gone becomes more real than that which took its place. This event is an homage to hyper-local elements of the city, including but not limited to communication, transportation, personal memory and happenstance. In the wee … Read moreAlter/Altar (Lower Manhattan, 2019)

The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (April/May 2022)

The next rendition of my Art of Ritual course for the Morbid Academy (the online teaching branch of the popular Morbid Anatomy enterprise) begins on April 20th: The intangible culture of death ceremony became increasingly bureaucratized throughout the Industrial Age, as hospitals, businesses, religious institutions and civic authorities overtook what had previously been intimate, participatory … Read moreThe Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (April/May 2022)