Die Beerdigung - Dries Verhoeven at Biennale Wiesbaden 2016
In The Funeral, current politics of fear and crisis are encapsulated in ten baroque funeral masses, a happening reflecting on the doom rhetoric of politicians and cultural pessimists. The spectators ponder the ‘death’ of vanished ideas, values or parts of our society and get the opportunity to pay their last respects. Together, they look back on the role ‘the deceased’ concepts or ideas played in their life, after which they carry them to the grave.
The happening in Wiesbaden took place in an Anglican church and followed the liturgy of a Catholic funeral service. A priest, a deacon and altar boys lead the service, a choir and professional coffin-bearers were present. After the service, there was a procession through the city and a burial at a previously constructed cemetery. Each day, a different value or element of society was buried: ‘The multicultural society’, ‘German Guilt feelings’, ‘Our belief in God’, ‘Our privacy’, etc.
By asking the visitors to stand, kneel and pray together, to walk in procession to the cemetery and to shovel earth onto the coffin, they became complicit in creating this ritualistic service, and invited to take a position in relation to the value or idea buried that day.