Lera Auerbach

Gogol
“The opera’s three acts are divided into seven scenes which blend fact with liberal amounts of invention. Among other things, Gogol wrestles with his (and Russia’s) demons by night, obsesses over his will and funeral arrangements, gets abused by doctors (‘but I don’t drink alcohol,’ he cries; ‘all the more reason for a leeching,’ they reply), bats away bothersome suitors with disconcertingly large papier-mâché breasts, falls in love with a nymph, and undergoes a literary show trial which culminates in his death.”
By Zwölftöner

JR

Omelia Contadina
‘Omelia Contadina’ was born out of JR’s interest in the difficulties encountered by a large number of small farmers and inhabitants of rural italy. Alice Rohrwacher explains the origins of the project: ‘last autumn, during a walk on the border between Umbria, Lazio and Tuscany, I told my friend and artist JR of my concerns about the destruction of the agricultural landscape, violated by the intensive monocultures with which major corporations are shaping entire territories. I told him, as the daughter of a beekeeper, of the mass death of insects that such changes bring about… At one point, we stopped at a crossroads: on all sides, uninterrupted rows of hazelnut trees filled the landscape as far as the horizon. As we looked upon this, we commented to each other that it looked like a war cemetery. On the way back we decided — if it looks like a cemetery, we have to hold a funeral. But it must be a funeral full of life!‘

Rob Seward

Death Death Death
File Festival
“Death Death Death” is book written by an algorithm. It utilizes a word association study conducted by the University of South Florida between 1976 and 1998. It contains over 10,000 words and their associations to each other. “Death Death Death” traces a path from each word to the word death. The book starts off with the words most closely associated to death. The beginning reads like this: Life – Death Funeral – Death Coffin – Death. Later, it takes several associative leaps to get to death: Enthusiasm – Spirit – Soul – Death Folly – Funny – Sad – Death Bahamas – Paradise – Heaven – Death Waggle – Wiggle – Worm – Maggot – Death. Reading soon becomes humorous, as every line reads like a joke-death is always the punchline. “Death Death Death” is 405 pages, contains an index so you can find any word, and a detailed description of the algorithm. Death Death Death was nominated for the 2010 File Prix Lux in the Digital Languages category.
video

FRANCESCO CARONE

funerale

POTLATCH

Gretchen at the Potlatch Feast

“Potlatch is a festive event within a regional exchange system among tribes of the North pacific Coast of North America, including the Salish and Kwakiutl of Washington and British Columbia.”
The potlatch takes the form of governance, economy, social status and continuing spiritual practices. A potlatch, usually involving ceremony, includes celebration of births, rites of passages, weddings, funerals, puberty,and honoring of the deceased. Through political, economic and social exchange, it is a vital part of these Indigenous people’s culture. Although protocol differs among the Indigenous nations, the potlatch could involve a feast, with music, dance, theatricality and spiritual ceremonies. The most sacred ceremonies are usually observed in the winter.
Within it, hierarchical relations within and between clans, villages, and nations, are observed and reinforced through the distribution of wealth, dance performances, and other ceremonies. Status of families are raised by those who do not have the most resources, but distribute the resources. The host demonstrates their wealth and prominence through giving away the resources gathered for the event, which in turn prominent participants reciprocate when they hold their own potlatches.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, gifts included storable food (oolichan [candle fish] oil or dried food), canoes, and slaves among the very wealthy, but otherwise not income-generating assets such as resource rights. The influx of manufactured trade goods such as blankets and sheet copper into the Pacific Northwest caused inflation in the potlatch in the late eighteenth and earlier nineteenth centuries. Some groups, such as the Kwakwaka’wakw, used the potlatch as an arena in which highly competitive contests of status took place. In rare cases, goods were actually destroyed after being received. The catastrophic mortalities due to introduced diseases laid many inherited ranks vacant or open to remote or dubious claim—providing they could be validated—with a suitable potlatch.
Sponsors of a potlatch give away many useful items such as food, blankets, worked ornamental mediums of exchange called “coppers”, and many other various items. In return, they earned prestige. To give a potlatch enhanced one’s reputation and validated social rank, the rank and requisite potlatch being proportional, both for the host and for the recipients by the gifts exchanged. Prestige increased with the lavishness of the potlatch, the value of the goods given away in it.