Kerkrade, the Netherlands, 31 October 2019 - Today is Halloween, which is also the eve of All Souls' Day and Día de Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead. It is the time of the year that increasing numbers of Dutch adorn their homes with skeletons stuck on their front doors, fake tombs in their gardens or other attributes that bear reference to death. On the other hand, it also appears that reflecting on one's own mortality is far less common, as research shows. However, the open debate about death and dying can make a difference when it comes to decreasing the fear of dying and accepting death as a part of life. From 11 February to 26 October 2020 Cube design museum in Kerkrade shows the new exhibition ‘(Re)design Death’, which features contemporary design around the central themes of saying farewell, dying, mourning and remembering. About 40 objects will provide an insight in how contemporary designers deal with the needs and rituals in connection with death, in many cases they result from personal experiences.
New rituals to replace older, religious rituals
As an outcome of secularisation (more than half of the Dutch no longer feel to belong to a religious denomination) and individualisation, traditional (religious) ways of dealing with death are no longer felt to be meaningful. Death and the resulting loss are now mainly felt to be a strictly personal matter. As a reaction to these developments designers come up with new approaches and inspiration for radically new products and concepts to deal with death, mourning and remembrance. Design becomes a powerful means to create new and personal rituals.
Preparation, Saying Farewell, Mourning & Life after Death
The exhibition is divided into three successive themes, derived from the several stages in the process of dying: Preparation, Saying Farewell, Mourning & Life after Death. The objects shown at the exhibition originate from all over the world and are of a contemporary, futuristic or speculative nature. Attention is paid to functional and technological designs, but there are also poetic and experience- and people-oriented designs.
Design challenge: Eternal life
The exhibition ultimately leads to a room, for reflection and debate on the question: ‘Do we want to live forever?’ In the run-up to the exhibition Cube organises a design challenge about this issue for young designers. Designers, who graduated no longer than three years ago, are challenged to create a so-called conversation piece to incite visitors to consider and discuss issues such as ‘Do I want to live forever?’, and if so ‘How do I want to live on? Designers are invited to submit their pitch for this challenge (the deadline will be 8 December 2019). Three designers will be chosen to elaborate their concepts during a coaching stage with designer Mark Sturkenboom. The resulting conversation pieces will be part of the exhibition.