An impression of Unlearning Death

How do we approach the paradigm of death in the arts? Or in general? For the ego, death is the end. But is this really so? 

Connecting to the web of life
On the 5th of February, a group of people came together in studio 2 at the Netherlands Film Academy to ‘unlearn death’. They sat around in a semi-circle around a kind of altar, to which all of them added something that was (or seemed) death, each explaining to the others what it was they had brought and why. This was the beginning of the first Unlearning Saturday, run by Artist in Residence Susanne Duijvestein and Stefan Schäfer from the Breitner Academy. They share an interest in death and grief, and a wish to examine the paradigm of death that is prevalent in the West and think about what other ways of looking at death, grief and life there might be.

These topics were dealt with in different ways throughout the day. There were a few lectures - about common images of death, dying glaciers and alternative burial rituals – and various assignments in which participants were asked, for example, to create spirals (of life). After an amazing lunch designed around the same theme – with various funeral dishes from different cultures – the group took the bus to go to the Voglermeerpolder – a nature reserve created on top of a toxic waste dump – from which all brought back some earth. Back in the studio, this was then mixed with milk and water and together the participants painted a so-called burial shroud. The day was rounded off by everyone dancing, blindfolded at first, to a playlist of titles suggested before by different participants.

"I really liked the field trip, it felt a bit like a strange dream to be taken to a different context and gave me interesting thoughts. And I loved the painting session." 

"This was a very powerful expiernce for me because recently I have been doubting my ability to (un) learn, my skills and talents a lot. Last Saturday helped me to become more aware of my needs"

"I enjoyed a lot the variety of people that were gathered together. Everyone was pretty into the activities and were open-minded and nice to be with. The more the day went on, the more I felt as a group, and that is really really nice to achieve!"

Other impressions of School of Unlearning