Back in December, along with several amazing and talented performers, visual artists, and collaborators of all sorts, I staged my own funeral. Unfortunately, prior to having this blog, I haven't had the space to post these images. So here they are!
I was looking at shapes and concepts for my fall 2009 collection, in the mourning attire in Victorian mourning photography, I used the funeral/ performance as a vehicle to showcase a preview of some key pieces from the collection. Anthony Vizzari has a museum of mourning photography in Oak Park, Illinios- in a space connected to his home. He very generously allowed me to view his collection of intense antique mourning photographs while doing research for the performance and the collection.
My very dear friend and lifetime collaborator Muffie Connelly, an insanely talented choreographer and dancer, created the movement for the performance. She is also one of the founding members of The Happydog performance company, a multi media collective of talented individuals, who create works with an emphasis on dance and theatrics. They are the key players who made my funeral come to life (ha!)....
The idea for the funeral came during a time of great hope and change. Obama was just coming into office- and the Bush regime was ending. I felt it appropriate to address the end, in order to usher in the beginning. The funeral was not a political piece, but a personal one.
I had also just finished reading the Tibetan book of Living and Dying, and I have been studying Buddhist philosophy for some years now. I am fascinated by the Western ideas of death and dying versus the Eastern views on the same. I wanted to welcome death, while creating an environment to welcome new life, and new beginnings. All things must come to an end, and impermanence is the only universal truth. So why not have a little ceremony? It wasn't all solemn and tears- the last respects paid to the "casket" was a lot of fun. The casket was actually a 5.5 foot long pinata filled with candy and toys. I suppose I liked the idea of putting the notion of death and finality- to rest. Of course, a dance-party followed with Club Lifestyle dance troup from Philly, doing their thing! Take a look at some of the images...
this is an image of the amazing mural my friend Hatuey Diaz painted on the wall of happydog in Chicago's wicker park where the last service was held- his murals (made mainly with house paint from home depot) served as the main set for the performance.
This is a rather dark image of Amanda Lopez-Betanzos as one of my mourners, She is another happydog founding member- and all around bad-ass performer.
This is a lovely image of the mourners performing a movement with chalk.
An audience member paying her last respects to the pinata casket- I had that pinata made around the corner from me in Pilsen- for a whole $50.00!!! I was so excited...
Muffie, and myself after the performance- she's my hero!
All photos taken by Kari Skaflan- please check out her amazing online Fashion magazine Above the Fray .... it is a very cool magazine that highlights emerging designers and fashion trends.