National Funeral Directors Convention 2011
What kind of alternative Memento Mori practices might be created in light of future developments in technology, philosophy and science?
Memento Mori is a Latin phrase meaning “Remember You Will Die” and a genre of Christian art with a strong emphasis on Divine Judgment, Heaven, Hell, and the salvation of the soul.
Most memento mori works emphasise the fleetingness of earthly pleasures, luxuries, and achievements, and an invitation to focus on the prospect of the afterlife. The most obvious places to look for memento mori objects are in funeral art and architecture. Perhaps the most striking is the cadaver and other imagery of skulls, dancing skeletons and the Grim Reaper often used to decorate tombs in Churches.
For an upcoming exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, I have been exploring many aspects of death, dying and memento mori and recently made a visit to the National Funeral Industry Convention here in Chicago. A 3 day event of seminars and keynotes with workshops available to the Funeral Directors such as:
The main attraction during the convention was the Expo; showcasing the breadth of funeral industry commercial services and products available to the Funeral Director and their shellshocked clients. Walking around the expo revealed the current funeral industry trends including social media being used to sell better memorialisation products and services, online dedicated obituary videos and photostorage for the decesased as well as Mor-Bid.com, the funeral auction site for the funeral professional.
Other web-enabled product services include QRcode tombstones, wifi enabled hearse cars, Funeral webcasts, and propriery software wikis to manage funeral planning and preplanning. There were many pre-need funeral fund organisations, endowment fund plans and life insurance representatives scattered amongst the traditional caskets and urns, wicker caskets and biodegradable eco urns. Glassware and keepsakes were a common thread throughout the convention with various glass and jewellery artists offering designs for necklaces, paperweights and memorial bracelets.
I share with you a selection of paraphernalia I picked up as I toured through the convention.