Let Death Dance Again

Mai 21, 2019 - Uncategorized

Illustration from: Rosenfeld, Hellmut. Der mittelalterliche Totentanz. 3rd edition, 1974. Böhlau Verlag Köln Wien.

Upcoming research project, soon to be released: letdeathdanceagain.net

Let Death Dance Again (LDDA) is an initiative investigating how a contemporary, non-human-centered version of the medieval Dance of Death (DoD), and its incorporation into current daily life and cultural aesthetics could operate as a means for knowledge production on human interconnectivity with technology, social constructs and the global environment. Interfering with power structures designed by the western capitalist framework. LDDA explores the impact on today’s global society and the environment caused by the exclusion of the concept of death in the western worldview and aims to provide a contemporary DoD with present-day aesthetic, didactic and poetic qualities leaving a human-centered approach of the concept behind.

LDDA is stimulated by the book Der mittelalterliche Totentanz (The medieval Dance of Death) by German literary historian Hellmut Rosenfeld. He refers to the aesthetic, didactic and poetic qualities of the medieval Dance of Death and defines it’s social values ‘(…) as here, the right of the fellow human being, the socially weaker, is defended against egoism, against that native human egoism (…) and also social, as here, human layers and forces that had been on the brink of suffocation in everyday- and working life, are evoked and called on.1

The medieval allegorical concept of the DoD intended to defend society against human egoism through aesthetic, didactic and poetic values. It was a cultic-magical phenomenon that made human conscious of their ‘Kreatülichkeit’ (‚creaturalness’). In the Renaissance, the approach turned rather rational and illustrated death’s omnipresence, arbitrariness and ruthlessness by ignoring age, class, gender, profession, social status: to death everybody was equal. In recent history, death is increasingly becoming invisible in western world-view. This differs from disregarding death in social media’s terms and conditions to rejecting environmental death caused by to human influence during the anthropocene. Today we grow one with digital devices, and they die too, social constructions and connections die as well as species do, woods and even mountains die as well: everything is equal to death.