“My current thinking is that the human condition is just one experience in a vast, living universe which we only perceive a tiny fraction of.”
While visiting Westerveld cemetery in Driehuis, the Netherlands, I stumbled upon a peculiar gravestone. A Dutch poem was engraved on it that made me smile, but then I noticed another intriguing fact. The gravestone had a birthdate, but no death date. This person was still alive!
“Embalming is not necessary, but its benefits can be remarkable. I have given parents the ability to see their children who were beyond recognizable after a car wreck, and I have let children see their father after he took his own life by shooting himself in the face.”
“A spiritual system I connect to is Pandeism – in short, the idea that whatever God was before the creation of the universe, that the last great creative act of expression for this being was to commit suicide, and in doing so, created the universe as we know it today.”
Amy Haslehurst is a visual artist from Australia, currently residing in Iceland. Through her photography she captures the otherworldly magnificence of the Icelandic landscape and combines this with influences of old dark folklore, to tell stories that often touch upon the subject of mortality. I asked Amy about her own experiences with death and how her ideas inspire her art.
I got an email from Ruben the other day, a musician from Germany who lost his sixteen year old daughter. He told me he agreed with my urge to break the taboo around the subject of death, as through the death of his daughter he experienced this in his surroundings himself. Here is Ruben’s story.
Lisa Nilsson recreates anatomical cross-sections from small rolls of paper with a technique called “quilling”. The structures generated through this strongly resemble the look and feel of real bone tissue.
Mortiis is the wicked brainchild and band name, as well as the moniker of a goblin-like creature, brought to life by Norwegian musician Håvard Ellefsen. I asked Håvard about his view on mortality and if he can imagine what his funeral will be like.
Dutch artist Janno Hahn is a “typo-graphic-designer” who combines his own distinct style of typography with graphic design in his numerous projects, varying from printed typefaces to tombstones.
Christian Fuchs is a Peruvian artist who gives new meaning to the concept of ancestor worship. Through his photography he transforms himself into his relatives by creating self-portraits inspired by their portraits and paintings.
Rick Strassman is a medical doctor specialized in psychiatry and the author of the acclaimed book “DMT: The Spirit Molecule” in which he shares his groundbreaking research on N,N-Dimethyltryptamine during which he administered 400 doses of the powerful psychedelic drug to 60 volunteers at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine.
Mesmerizing installations, sculptures and films are only a few of the mediums through which multidisciplinary artist Hans Op de Beeck reflects on our complex society and the universal questions of meaning and mortality that resonate within it.
Caitlin Doughty is an LA-based mortician, author, and founder of The Order of The Good Death, a group of professionals in the funeral industry who are committed to making a difference in our death phobic culture.
Jeremie Saunders is the co-host of Sickboy Podcast, a show in which he discusses the heavier sides of living with a disease. Jeremie himself has a genetic lung disease called Cystic Fibrosis (CF). I asked him about the awesome work he is doing with Sickboy Podcast and how he copes with CF.
Culinary genius Annabel de Vetten is nicknamed Annabel Lector, which you will understand is for obvious reasons once you take a look at her work. She fabricates hauntingly delicious cakes, or rather “edible sculptures”, of the darkest of themes.
Roger’s work reflects an exploration of existential subjects and invites the audience to go on a journey within themselves. I sat down with Roger and asked him about his experiences with death, and how the theme of mortality is embedded in his life and art.
Warren Ellis is a graphic novelist and author, known for his acclaimed comic book series ‘Transmetropolitan’ and his best-selling novel ‘Gun Machine’. I picked his brain on morbid matters and his own contemplation of death.
“Death has always fascinated me. By the age of 11 I knew I wanted to become a mortician. People generally thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care. I thought death was something endlessly intriguing and beautiful.”