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Art About Death: Encountering Memento Mori

The intersection of art and near-death experiences presents a unique lens through which artists explore and confront the themes of mortality, the afterlife, and human consciousness. Here are highlights from contemporary artworks that delve into these profound subjects:

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  1. Saskia Moore's "Dead Symphony"
    Saskia Moore's "Dead Symphony"
     explores the sounds reported by individuals who have experienced near-death phenomena. Moore's work, a sound project, aims to recreate the ethereal, digital sounds often described by these individuals, presenting an auditory interpretation of the transition between life and death​.

  2. Candy Chang's "Before I Die"
    Candy Chang's "Before I Die"
     is an interactive public art project that transforms spaces into shared environments for personal reflection and community connection. Participants are invited to complete the sentence "Before I die I want to..." on a chalkboard, fostering a collective contemplation of life's finite nature and one's personal aspirations​.

  3. Jose Hernandez's "Ascension Art"
    Jose Hernandez's "Ascension Art"
     was directly inspired by his near-death experience, creating artwork meant to replicate the vibrant, transformative energy he encountered. His work aims to bring the peace, beauty, and profound emotional resonance of that experience into the material world, often used in healing environments like hospitals​.

  4. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's "Last Breath"
    Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's "Last Breath"
     is a biometric sculpture that captures and recirculates the breath of an individual, serving as a poignant reminder of the ephemerality of life and the physical essence that defines human existence. The piece becomes a memorial to the moment and the individual, encapsulating the fleeting nature of life​.

  5. Jodie Carey's "In the Eyes of Others"
    Jodie Carey's "In the Eyes of Others"
     features massive chandeliers made from plaster bones, confronting viewers with the inevitability of death and the collective human destiny. Carey's work suggests a contemplation of our mortality from an external perspective, questioning how we deal with the concept of our own end​.

These artworks not only provide a space for reflection on life and death but also challenge the viewers to confront their own perceptions and feelings regarding the end of life and what may lie beyond. They illustrate the power of art to navigate the complex emotions surrounding mortality and the human condition.

Learn more About Naturalist Gallery of Contemporary Art.

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