Installation views, Sweet Lies. Rethinking Identity, Ludwig Forum Aachen © Photos: Simon Vogel
Burial rites reveal much about what communities consider desirable in life, but furthermore, which ideas of the afterlife shape them. These rites are prevalent in most cultures; however, the idea of a good death can change significantly depending on period or place. Thus, for many centuries, the people in Christian Europe were afraid of a sudden death that would have kept them from receiving the last rites. They were equally concerned with settling their affairs and saying goodbye to their family and those around them. Today, in contrast, it is considered ideal to die as quickly as possible, without pain, and unconsciously. The discussion on euthanasia testifies to the disengagement from a worldview that is shaped by Christianity. This shows that even our way of dealing with death is not static. And thus, it becomes easier to understand that in different cultural or religious communities, the subject of death is sometimes dealt with in different manners. What these communities have in common is that they have established rites based on traditions, which are in turn not only perpetuated in a dialog with the past but are also subject to permanent change.