The Palliative Turn
With Annemarie Goldschmidt (Kinesiologist, DK), Kasia Fudakowski (artist, UK), Dafna Maimon (artist, FI), John Luke Roberts (comedian, UK), Simon Blanck (artist, SE), Lars Erik Hjertström Lappalainen (Philosopher, SE), Dr. Keith Larsson (climate researcher, USA), Lydia Roeder (palliative care expert, DE), Olav Westphalen (artist, DE/SE)
September 18 to 20, 2020
at Salon am Moritzplatz, Berlin
What would happen, if we began to think of art as a practice that helps us leave this life behind? A process that prepares us for the fact that individually and as a civilisation we will cease to exist in this form rather soon? In a three-day symposium, a group of artists and thinkers might lay the groundwork for the forceful declaration of the ‘Palliative Turn’ in art.
Narratives, art works, films that are trying to usher in profound change are plenty. Many of them are smart, sensitive, beautiful. But they are generally based on the assumption that somehow, through education, reason, technology or social action, we can solve our problems. They are curative rather than palliative approaches. What if this assumption of our capability to fix things were just another facet of the self-aggrandizing species-exceptionalism that got us into trouble? What if our ambition to control, not just our own lives, but even the planet's equilibrium is just the latest symptom of what has been wrong all along? And, finally, could acceptance of our predicament, learning how to let go and eventually die well, be a first step towards learning how to live right? Living right, one might guess, would imply a less destructive presence. (This is, ironically, where hubris might sneak in again).
This symposium has been initiated by Olav Westphalen and is funded by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee.
Press release for AFASIOTOPIA, 2020, Foundational Symposium, Salon am Moritzplatz, Berlin
*A Foundational and Speculative Invocation of the Palliative Turn in Art
Nu är du död
(Now you are dead)
Porcelain photograph on a piece of tombstone. The photograph is of two skulls in a museum display. They are lying there facing each other and I found the scene quite moving, love that transcends death and time. I made a porcelain photograph of the picture, the kind of porcelain found on tombstones with a portrait of the deceased. I put the porcelain on a piece of second hand tombstone that had been discarded from a local cemetary.
Kirkenes Tire Burn
John Luke Roberts
Ways to Foster a Healthy Relationship with Death:
A Non-Hierarchical List (Ongoing)
Breed worms. Leave instructions in your will for these worms to be buried with you once you die.
In the meantime, give the worms names, talk to the worms, confide in the worms.
In other words: befriend the worms that will eat your carcass.
Before flushing, hold a funeral for each bowel movement.
Wear black, light candles, make a speech, invite guests.
Carry a portable speaker playing the ‘beep beep’ of a hospital heart monitor at all times.
Sit on your hand until it goes numb. Contemplate that hand.
Buy a number of pets with different life expectancies
(e.g. from stick insect, through cat, through parrot, to turtle).
This will help you maintain regular contact with loss throughout your life.
Have a tombstone carved with your name and date of birth. Carry it with you everywhere.
Keep a skull handy in your living room to look at. Get a smaller skull for when you’re travelling.
Keep your food waste and let it rot.
Close your eyes more often. Close your ears as well.
Eat a spoonful of soil once a week.
Sit in a wooden chair and look at a tree. Then, sit in the tree and look at the wooden chair.
Repeat, until you reach some level of understanding.
Date a mortician, or undertaker, or coroner. Look deep into their eyes at any opportunity.
The Sarcophagus of My Dreams
In connection with the first meeting of APT I visited the the royal mausoleum in Charlottenburg and was infatuated with Queen Louise’s sarcophagus. I took a series of photographs of the very captivating marble drapings on the sculpture. I consider theese photographs to be the first images I made in the spirit of the Palliative Turn.
Eingereicht als “Abstract” für ein Forschungprojekt zum 13. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Palliativmedizin, 2020. 4. Platz der Teilnehmerbewertung im Wettbewerb für wissenschaftliche Poster.