Unlearning Death

One-day workshop consisting of lectures, rituals, walk, dance for the AIR programme The School of Unlearning by various departments of the Amsterdam University of the Arts in 2022.
In collaboration with funeral director and green funeral activist Susanne Duijvestein.

About the workshop (to be found here and here)

How do we approach the paradigm of death in the arts? Or in general? For the ego, death is the end. But is this really so? 
Death is often presented as an unwanted faraway future, something to conquer or an idea to avoid as much as possible during life. The same goes for grief: truly sacred ground that often receives inadequate attention and is poorly understood. What if death, grief and pain hold crucial wisdom for us, helping us connect to the complexity of life? Can acceptance of death help renew our appreciation of life and our relationship with nature, the earth and our larger universe? Is there closure to be gained by exploring mankind’s synergy with nature and by celebrating the circle of life?

During this first Saturday of the School of Unlearning, we will explore a new paradigm of death and (ecological) grief together with our Artist in Residence Susanne Duijvestein and teacher Stefan Schäfer, both experienced in helping people reflect on death and grief. 

With web of life-based lectures, grief and pain exercises, altar creation, meditation and ritual performance, we will start creating a new paradigm of death and therefore life. Participants will learn about the web of life and the regenerative quality of death.

How can we understand the life-death-life cycle, how can we work with the pain of loss and transform our grief? How can we come to terms with death on a larger scale, extinction and loss of biodiversity, collapsing ecosystems and also more intimate losses, for example a dying relative? We will look at ways to alchemize grief (and love) for nature.

To relate life and death to the environment, we will make a trip to the Volgermeerpolder in the north of Amsterdam (transport will be facilitated). What was once an undeveloped wetland site, rich in turf, was first turned into a toxic waste dump and then in 2011 restored back to life as a nature reserve.