This last week marked our second ever Death Salon, a three day conference bringing together all death-types to share their work with each other and the public. Our first Death Salon was last year in Los Angeles, and this year we crossed the pond London. The event was held in the stunningly gorgeous glass ceilinged Victorian pathology museum, Barts. Barts, with its deformed baby skulls and tumored colons, was the perfect safe space to talk about our mortality in frank, open terms. It proved to me what I have long known: Europe rules and America drools when it comes to dedicated death spaces.As the death acceptance movement expands, mutates, takes form, it is 100% necessary to have physical locations that represent us. Not just for holding events that preach to the death positive choir, but more importantly, places to serve as introductions to the unconverted. Those who might need a well lit place filled with friendly, interesting people to be gently ushered into addressing their inevitable mortality.
While in London for Death Salon I visited the Grant Zoological Museum, on what turned out to be some manner of children’s visiting day. At first I thought, “omg kids out of my way I’m trying to geek out on this formaldehyde manatee baby.” But the wee babes petting preserved crocodile heads and being taught squirrel embryology by adorable docents with Scottish accents quickly melted my black heart.
Fortunately, though we may not have the rich history of death spaces, Americans does have (for better or worse) a legacy of optimistic pioneers. There are two simultaneous Kickstarter projects from our good friends and colleagues at Morbid Anatomy and the The Body Appropriate. You will click here. Now you will click here.
Child one: “Is that a jar of snakes?”
Child two: “Hold on. Nope, I think they’re just snake heads.”
Child one: “Ewww, awesome!”
I know Kickstarter can seem a little intangible. But these campaigns are not. These are are real spaces being created. Look at lil’ Morbid Anatomy Museum being painted BLACK (obviously) as we speak.
Bonus: your donation to the Morbid Anatomy Kickstarter gets you a discount on the Morbid Anatomy Anthology, which features a piece I wrote on medieval witchcraft and demonic babies. Fun!We’re hoping to take Death Salon to BOTH these new places, so pwease sir, give the death events someplace to go. Give us (and your boatloads of morbid proclivities) a home!
Euro Death Space Donation Option: Project on the intersection of death and architecture presented at the Venice Biennale. More here.