Printed photo wallpapered, remnants
Part of my talk “Back From“ at the Kunstverein Freiburg, about my trip to China
I share an observation that touched me deeply.
My journey through China brought me to the mountains of Sichuan. There, three Buddhist nuns took me to the daily ritual of a heavenly funeral. On the small hike to the hill we met a few cute marmots. The closer we came to the place, the more vultures we saw waiting for it to become one o’clock: the time of the ‘sky burial.’ There were at least 200 vultures! Several other people were waiting at the location. Relatives of the three dead – a child, a woman and a man – but also other observers, like me, who had come out of curiosity and other very personal reasons. Before the dead were brought from the village on a motorbike, the visitors had the opportunity to place themselves in the small pit where the deceased were to be prepared for the vultures. My companions encouraged me to sit down and meditate on death, but I could not. Already the smell and the many shreds of fabric made me feel sick. At some point the dead were brought – and chopped with an ax. At that time the 200 vultures were already close to us. The man with the ax left the room and the vultures ran past us, rushing at the dead, of which nothing was left to be seen after half an hour. After I got my tears under control, I took the camera out and photographed what was still to be seen: fully satisfied vultures.
It is said to be the last good act that one can do with one’s own body.