Death Café for the World As We Know It
March 2, 2022
“Death Café for the World As We Know It” is a kickoff event for the year-long, international Climate Thanatology project, an arts laboratory that includes visual art, performance, and participatory events in the U.S., Norway, and Denmark. This project, developed with SixtyEight Art Institute in Copenhagen, applies the therapeutic practice of music thanatology, or music for the dying, to climate grief and collective repair. This event will include live harp music in response to participants’ voicing of climate losses while gathered around a table at the Finch Lane Gallery. Music thanatologist Catharine DeLong’s musical responses to the rapidly drying Great Salt Lake inform her playing for the Death Café.
Climate writer and activist Ash Sanders will guide participants to voice and write their griefs about drought, habitat and species loss, wildfire, pollution, or even loss of innocence about the natural world. These short texts will become part of a Grief Shrine installation by Copenhagen artist Anne Louise Blicher and an algorithmic poem to be archived in the Climate Thanatology digital exhibit. Additional elements of the laboratory include a Lost Species Walk with artist-designed animal icons to be carried by each participant, sound art developed from DeLong’s harp music, and an interactive shadow-art performance with guides in nineteenth-century mourning dress and bird masks.
The overarching goal is not to remain in mourning but to create a pause for community formation around slowness, listening, and criticality about carbon-dependent ways of life, so that new imaginaries can emerge.
Heidi Hart, who is the curator of this project, is an Art & Humanities Research Fellow with SixtyEight Art Institute in Copenhagen. She received her B.A. from the University of Utah, where she also worked as an Interdisciplinary Research Fellow at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. She holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and a Ph.D. in German Studies from Duke University (2016). She has received an ACLS-Mellon fellowship and several grants for environmental curriculum development, as well as Utah Humanities funding for a conference on the Anthropocene at Utah State. Heidi has been an invited participant in the Kelp Congress in Norway (Lofoten International Arts Festival, 2019) and The Curatorial Thing in Copenhagen (2020), which she will co-curate in 2022. Heidi’s publications include the recent books Hanns Eisler’s Art Songs: Arguing with Beauty and Music and the Environment in Dystopian Narrative: Sounding the Disaster. She also serves as a Nonresident Senior Research Fellow in the Environment & Climate program of the European Center for Populism Studies.