Up until the past few decades, funerary rituals were largely dictated by the religious or the cultural traditions to which the departed or her family ascribed. For most believers, the same can be said today, but for the secular, the environmentally conscious, and the individualist there are a host of alternative funerary rituals.
Traditional funerary methods depend on the religion they are affiliated with. For instance, Catholics begin their ritual with Final Communion just before the person passes. There are few days as the family arranges for the funeral and friends and family travel to the burial, until an evening wake allows friends and family to pay their respects and mourn collectively. The next day, a funerary mass brings participants into the church to sing, pray, and in some cases witness absolution of the departed. Lastly, the Rite of Committal occurs during a graveside service, and the person is commemorated with anything from a tombstone to an elaborate mausoleum depending on the family’s wishes.
Jewish, Protestant, Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu funerary traditions require similar categories be fulfilled. As secularization takes hold in America more people are shirking the standards of religion and the monetized funeral home system and beginning to re-imagine the burial ritual. For instance, woodland cemeteries, situated in forests or nature preserves subtly commemorate while giving the dead a bucolic reprieve and a fairly normative service. The Eternal Reef, where a loved one’s cremated remains are cast into concrete and placed in the ocean just off of the coast. There is a ceremony from the delivery boat, and a GPS location for future visitation, as the memorial reef helps support aspects of an ecosystem. Aquamation is another water-based alternative, where a body is submerged in an alkaline water solution that is heated for a number of minutes speeding the body’s decomposition. The bones remain, and can be ground and presented to the family for burial or scattering, while the water is dispersed as fertilizer. For the future seeker, cryonics attempt to preserve one’s body by pumping out internal fluids and replacing them with a solution and gradually lowering the corpse’s temperature to -196º C until medicine provides the answer for recitation.
final scene Tarkofsky’s Nostalghia
7.3.12 Toyo Ito Pavilion, Brugge, Belgium
7.1.12 Concertgebau Brugge, Paul Robbrecht & Hilde Daem
6.28.12 Canal Chips in Amièns, artistic direction by Park
6.28.12 somewhere b/w St. Just-en-Chaussee and Amièns
6.27.12 path b/w Pierrefonds & St. Just-en-Chaussee
6.23.12 Jean Nouvel’s Cartier Foundation, Paris, France
6.21.12 Jean Nouvel’s Quay Branly, Paris, France