THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Design // Boano Prišmontas + Lieve Smout
Death is a subject of immense complexity deeply connected with the meaning of our existence, still we are more used to question our everyday life rather than our eventual death. We instinctively follow patterns of denial to avoid considering this gargantuan and inexplicable mystery, even if death is an industry that consumes resources and space on an unsustainable global scale. At the same time, there is a personal experience with death, a sense of secret intimacy, a routine made of rituals and social liturgies that needs to be told.
We propose a close encounter with death through seven acts, seven random ordinary realities transformed into physical diagrams. These simple, yet unbelievable considerations are represented as elementary compositions that aim to illustrate death and its sense of absurd nothingness through the materiality of physical models.
A mental aide-memoire for when we talk about death.
One - ‘To comply with religious law, the towers of the Yarkon cemetery in Israel have pipes filled with dirt inside their columns so that each layer is still technically connected to the ground.’
Two - ‘The Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica in Santos, Brazi has gradually increased in height since 1983 to meet the demand for ‘tombs with a view’. It now also includes a snack bar on the roof.'
Three - ‘Each year, over 30 million board feet of wood, 1.6 million tons of concrete, 750,000 gallons of embalming fluid, and 90,000 tons of steel are buried underground in the United States alone. You could construct a Golden Gate Bridge with that amount of steel, but we use it to store bodies.’
Four - ‘If burials remain as popular in 2050 as they were in 2014, the world will need to set aside around another 6,500 square kilometer of land: an area more than five times the size of New York City. It only takes about eight to twelve years for an uncoffined adult human corpse to decompose.’
Five - ‘In the UK, the common graves of the 19th century are very, very deep. If you turn a cemetery upside down it looks like the middle of the city, like a skyscraper.’
Six - ‘In Ghana, people are buried in coffins that represent their lives, so a fisherman might spend eternity in a box shaped like a carp and a farmer may spend it in a six-foot cob of corn.’
Seven - ‘Burial plots in London have increased in price by over three times more than the property market over the last ten years. In Hong Kong niches with just enough space to house a single urn, can cost as much as a luxury flat.’