Everything Dies Though it’s Never Been Alive: A workshop on memorials for deaths of the non-living

16 May
15:00 – 17:00 Workshop with S†ëfan Schäfer/ Let Death Dance Again

Everything Dies Though it’s Never Been Alive: A workshop on memorials for deaths of the non-living


Well I loved my phone
But it died

And my business too
Then it died

I’m searching for
Something which can’t
Be found but I’m hoping

I still dream of a mountain
Though it died

Everything dies

(Adaption of Everything Dies (1999) by Type O Negative)

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Memorials serve as commemoration of a person or a group and can take the shape different shapes: on public scale they appear in the form of a sculpture, statue or landmark art while on a personal level they occur on a smaller scale, for example T-Shirts, death quilts, other clothing and textile, mugs, cardboard signs, stickers, tattoos, memorial websites, gifs and more; apparently any medium or everyday object potentially can become a memorial. The latter examples implement mobility, they can be carried around or are worn. This offers the opportunity to get recognised as a mourning person and, if wanted/ needed, sharing the loss with others easily. Memorials are not limited to commemorate humans, as people also use them to cope with the loss of pets they had a strong emotional bond with. Humans and pets are easy to be seen as living entities and their deaths mean the end of this status; their bodies cease to be. Memorials then, in their traditional form, are meant for somebody. What about memorials for the death of something?

Death of the non-living (some references)

On Sunday August 18, 2019, Iceland held an official memorial ceremony for their glacier called Ok, formerly known as Okjökull, which means Ok-glacier in Icelandic. Ok had been declared dead in 2014, as according to glaciologist Oddur Sigurðsson: ‘we made the decision that this was no longer a living glacier, it was only dead ice, it was not moving’. During the ceremony a plaque has been revealed, saying “A letter to the future - Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.” The plaque also exposes the record level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere measured in May 2019: 415ppm CO2. Scientists call Ok the first glacier that died because of climate change. Other examples of the usage of death and memorial vocabulary in relation to climate change are the Grevelingenmeer (Netherlands) is called a dead zone, slowly dying from suffocation (2019) and after a funeral march to the spot where once had been the Pizol Glacier (Switzerland), people laid out the abbreviation R.I.P. in stones as a memorial (2019).

The phrase My phone just died is most commonly used when somebody’s mobile phone ran out of battery. On a bigger scale the same phrase could describe the death by obsolete of hard- and software due to the speed of technological development, declared dead when they cannot catch up with latest upgraded anymore. Outdated hardware is piled up on technology mass graves while unused software dies socially.

Consequences of the regulations to fight the current Corona Crisis are partly described as dying of social life, death of individuality and personal freedom might lead to the Mass Extinction of Businesses.

How to understand such recourse to the aesthetics, ritual and symbolism from the domains of death, dying and mortality in the context of environmental ruination, technological development and the collapse of global structures? Does this suggest a perceptual change in the relationship between humans and nonliving entities, foregrounding emotion and empathy?

In this workshop you create a memorial for a non-living entity. The medium and material are free of choice. Make sure that you have found a death of a non-living (the examples above may be used but you are not limited to them). In the end we will assemble all results to a memorial of different non-living entities, a memorial chimera, as death unites everybody and everything.


Requirements for participants

Zoom.us application for video streaming with free account

Please check your Zoom setting before the event starts - https://zoom.us/test


S†ëfan Schäfer/ Let Death Dance Again

Let Death Dance Again (LDDA) is founded by S†ëfan Schäfer and investigates how a contemporary version of the medieval Dance of Death (DoD), and its incorporation into current daily life and cultural aesthetics, could operate as a means for knowledge production on human interconnectivity with technology, social constructs and the global environment, leaving a human-centered approach of the concept behind. LDDA is stimulated by DoD's social values defined by Hellmut Roselfeld ‘(…) as here, the right of the fellow human being, the socially weaker, is defended against egoism, against that native human egoism (…) and also social, as here, human layers and forces that had been on the brink of suffocation in everyday- and working life, are evoked and called on.’

S†ëfan Schäfer’s research based design work deals with death and memorial culture, visual literacy and interdisciplinary experiments. His work results in print, sound, performance, object, writing and installation. At this point he develops his new long term research project Death. Environment. Anthropocene. Design. (DEAD). The project aims to develop new conceptions and exposures of death, ritual and memory in the context of environmental ruination in what has been labeled the Epoch of the Anthropocene. His work has been exhibited internationally at Krasnoyarsk Biennale, St. Etienne Design Biennale, Festival International de l’affiche et des arts graphiques de Chaumont, Cape Town Design Capital, Dutch Design Week Eindhoven. Schäfer lectured about his work at OTIS College of Art and Design Los Angeles, Sandberg Institute Amsterdam, VŠVU Bratislava, Institute of Contemporary Arts London.

15:00 – 17:00 Workshop with S†ëfan Schäfer/ Let Death Dance Again

Everything Dies Though it’s Never Been Alive: A workshop on memorials for deaths of the non-living