Play Dead – Ars Moriendi

**UPDATE – The installation has past.  To find photos and a description of the outcome  of Ars Moriendi please see I See Dead People.  Access the post-mortem photographs of participants here.

We have become passive observers of death.  American society leaves the orchestration of dying to physicians and funeral directors.  Our disconnection from death influences the health of our grieving processes, our reverence for life and even shapes our relationship with violence and war.

“…in many ways, our lives are no different from that of the peasant in the 14th century. The peasant missed a fully human life because he or she was inundated with death. We do not live fully because we reject death.” – John D. Morgan

Ars Moriendi, or “The Art of Dying”, is a performance installation that incorporates photography, video, conversation and craft.  The original Ars Moriendi is a centuries-old Latin text designed to teach the reader how to have a good death.  This incarnation will explore American attitudes towards mortality.  Participating audiences will be asked to experience a symbolic death and sit for a post-mortem photograph.  The project ends in the construction of a mixed-medium American flag, made from the photos of those playing dead.

The project has roots in Thanatology, or the study of death and dying.  It contends Americans are removed from the death process.  Ideally, participants will contemplate their mortality and our society’s attitudes, while they engage with the installment.

Ars Moriendi will take place May 5, 6 & 7 at Barnstorm: The Cabaret Re-Imagined.

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