Death is good for you. The fact that life has an end gives meaning to life and its experiences. On an individual level, the death of a loved one is often a tragedy. But from humanity’s perspective, mortality can be seen as a good, even a fantastic thing. Death is a force that puts things in motion, it colours the decisions and choices we make during our life. In the Fantastic Death exhibition life and death are one. When your relationship to your own mortality grows stronger it opens up the possibility to experience life more deeply.
Daniel “Hello” Mensah (b. 1968) is a coffin artist who has made three fantasy coffins for the exhibition. Fantasy coffins are used in Ghana among Christians belonging to the Ga people. The coffins are custom-made for the most respected members of the community when they die. A fantasy coffin often portrays the profession of the dead person. The coffins in the Fantastic Death exhibition represent a handgun, a Coca-Cola bottle and a tilapia fish.
In Noora Geagea’s (b. 1981) video Life goals, a pregnant woman acts as a goalkeeper on a football field. Sometimes the ball goes past the goalkeeper, other times she makes an amazing save, and once in a while she loses her strength. In Geagea’s video a human being is all things. She is an active subject, and an object of action, a survivor, a mortal, and a protector of life. The video is a condensed depiction of life.
Selfie coffin is an interactive installation by Vilma Metteri (b. 1977), in which visitors can settle down for a moment in a coffin and even do “one final pose” if they want. These selfies are projected on the wall of the gallery where they can be photographed and then shared via social media channels with the hashtag #arkkuselfie (“coffin selfie”). In addition to being a powerful experience, Metter’s work of art also challenges us to consider whether death is taboo in the digital world.
In many, especially ancient, cultures it was customary to bury the deceased with objects that were important to them and which they might need in the afterlife. Aurora Reinhard’s (b. 1975) artwork Treasures of the 21st Century is a collection of objects, which a friend of the artist carried in her handbag over the years. Everyday we carry around in our handbags and backpacks our most important belongings. Should these be buried with us when we go?
The exhibition has been built in close collaboration by the artists and curator and producer Anna Miettinen. The artists have created their works of art for the Fantastic Death exhibition sparked by shared brainstorming. This was based on the desire of each artist to deal in their work with mortality and the positive significance death has on life.