Tara Isabella Burton’s 2018 article for Vox examines the development of funeral and memorial practices in the secular sphere: Zuckerman posits that among the people he’s interviewed for his book research, the desire to have a secular funeral isn’t just about not wanting to affirm the existence of a God or an afterlife that the … Read more“What Does Dying — and Mourning — Look Like in a Secular Age?”
Currently exhibiting at the Cube Design Museum in Kerkrade, Holland, (Re)design Death showcases fifty cutting-edge designs on the themes of Preparation, Saying Goodbye, Mourning and Living On and Eternal Life.
Leslie Ann Epperson’s 2015 documentary (trailer above) examines the history, personalities, logistics and guiding ethos of Tucson’s acclaimed All Souls Procession. This secular and notably artistic remembrance of death and celebration of life dates back to the year 1990 and has grown from strength to strength – a recent count estimated well over 150,000 participants … Read more“Many Bones, One Heart” – a Documentary on Tucson’s All Souls Procession
VICE reporter Yuka Uchida investigates the practice of “Well Dying” or “Near Death” simulations in South Korea, wherein participants experience a ritual “death” – including the writing of final letters to loved ones and a symbolic burial – in order to gain perspective on their lives.
Audio as the Realm of the Dead was a 2007 site-specific memento mori sound art project by Victoria Estok: Created as a gift to those who recognize Roosevelt, NJ as their home, this one day sound installation allowed the dead to be heard again and the listener to enter into a realm of shared memory deep … Read more“Audio as the Realm of the Dead”
New Orleans artist Candy Chang created the first Before I Die wall in 2011, after the death of a close friend. By painting the wall of an abandoned house in her neighborhood with chalkboard paint and repeatedly stenciling the phrase “Before I die I want to”, followed by a blank line, she established a local … Read moreThe “Before I Die” Project
Activist Danny Gamboa produced this short, intimate documentary on ghost bikes – junk bicycles painted white and locked to street signs as memorials to riders killed by cars in traffic accidents.
This episode of the Artbound documentary series considers the reinvention of the Day of the Dead festival in the USA, particularly via the work of the Self Help Graphics community art center in East Los Angeles during the early 1970s. For much more on this subject, I strongly recommend Regina M. Marchi’s 2009 book Day … Read moreArtbound: “Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead”
Here is Allison Elizabeth Solso’s 2015 dissertation on the theme of “vernacular memorials”; the often-temporary shrines constructed by bereaved families and friends at the sites of often-violent deaths. An excerpt: My relationship to these spaces was always confused, even as I did my best to maintain respect and some modicum of decorum. The need to … Read more“Beyond Memento Mori: Understanding American Religions Through Roadside Shrines”
By Tony Wolf During late January of 2020 I returned to snowy Chicago from a three-week long vacation and family reunion in sunny New Zealand. During the trip we’d celebrated my mother’s 80th birthday with a surprise party and also received the devastating news of a death in the American branch of the family. At … Read moreThe Vanitas Shrine: Remembering Death and Seizing the Day