Monday, December 26, 2011

Reality Television Showcases End of Life Themes

The finale of the reality television show Work of Art: The Next Great Artist aired last week. This show is like a lot of reality shows. The artists are each week given a topic or project to make a work of art. Each week an artist is voted off by a panel of judges. In the finale, the three top artists spent three months creating their solo exhibitions. What I found interesting is that 2 of the 3 shows were partially or Linkcompletely themed around death.

Young Sun, one of the finalists, show was entitled Bool-sa-jo and was focused around the illness and then death of his father. Written on the exhibit was a conversation between Sun and his mother.

"My sweet bool-sa-jo," she called him. Mom stroked Dad's cheek.
"What does that word mean?" I asked.
"Phoenix," she replied. "He's survived so many operations, strokes, chemo.
He keeps living. That's why I call him that. I think he'll live longer than me!"
Finding a balance between closure and remembrance isn't easy.
Bool-sa-jo at once an epilogue and a tribute to the process of loss and healing amongst family"

Kymia Nawabi, the winner of the finale, had an exhibit entitled Not For Long, My Forlorn. Her work focused around life cycles, including death and life after death. Below is a poem at her exhibit and then a video of Kymia talking about her work.

All in that body
Allin your spirit and soul
What of it next?
More glimmer of gold

Look to the Ouroboros
Its beginnings and ends
Sacred scared warrior
Shed your skin again

Onward and all ways
You fight for the grave
Have great faith in yourself
Cosmic paths are paved

So, no for long my forlorn
For the fight in this life is brief
They sheathe each end
With your spirit, never to sleep

The exhibits can be seen on the shows website here.

Monday, December 26, 2011 by Amber Wollesen, MD · 0

Monday, December 12, 2011

L'Inconnue de la Seine

I am a huge fan of Radiolab, and happened to hear their story of the Resusci Anne, or CPR Annie, recently. I thought Pallimed Arts readers would enjoy this as it fits well into our field.

Most of us at some time have at least seen CPR Annie, others of us have actually pounded on her chest, and preformed mouth to mouth as we went through the CPR steps.  The same face has been used since the beginning of CPR training in the 1960s and Annie remains the most popular CPR manikin face.

This face is not just a plastic computer generated face either. There is a unique history to Resusci Anne.  The designer of Annie is Asmund Laerdal, a Norwegian toy maker.  Laedral agreed to participate in this new training idea when friend Dr. Peter Safar, the father of CPR, asked. Laedral, however, needed inspiration and so while visiting his parents he noticed an attractive mask of a woman's face on their wall and knew immediately this would be his model. The face he saw was actually a death mask, known as "L'Inconnue de la Seine"

If you need a refresher on Death Masks, Amber talked about it in a post a while ago. They are plaster casts made of someone's face, soon after death, used as a memento.

"L'Inconnue de la Seine" actually means the 'unknown woman of the Seine'.  The story goes that this beautiful woman was pulled out of the river Seine in Paris in the 1880's.  Her beauty struck the workers at the morgue, so a death mask was created. The reason for her death was guessed to be suicide and from there her legend grew. In time reproductions were created and people captivated by her unknown identity and beauty began to display the mask in their homes as art.  

Her identity to this day is unknown, but this has not stopped her allure. She was a bit of a sensation, especially in the 1920's and 30's, and well known writers such as Richard le Gallienne, Jules Supervielle, Claire Goll  and Anias Nin mentioned L'Inconnue in their works.  

The Radiolab episode commented on the irony of this whole story. The unknown beautiful lady who drowned, is now symbolically resuscitated in CPR classes around the world, over and over again.

I found a deeper irony in my research. Both Peter Safar and Asmund Laerdal had children who required resuscitation. Asmund's son nearly drowned in 1954 at the age of 2, and his Asmund, despite not knowing CPR, was able to revive him. Dr. Safar had a daughter with severe asthma, who had a tragic asthma attack in 1966. Dr. Safar was able to resuscitate her with CPR, however she had anoxic trauma and died several days later.

I would highly recommend a listen to Radiolab's piece, as they interview Laerdal's son and do a superb job telling this story.   Most of all, the next time you do CPR training, remember the story of the "L'Inconnue de la Seine" as you do your, "Annie, Annie, are you okay?"

Monday, December 12, 2011 by Amy Clarkson · 1

Monday, December 5, 2011

Memorial Golf Park

We have done posts that featured unusual cemeteries in the past. I've heard people make comments about where they would want to be buried or the cemetery or plot they picked out. As Amy pointed out in her post, most people pick out there cemetery based on family reasons. A recent NPR story, highlighted a very interesting kind of cemetery for those who choose their cemetery based on their favorite hobby. Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Bellevue, Washington has created a Memorial Golf Park.

The Memorial Golf Park isn't an entire golf course. It is one complete hole including a tee-box, 820-square-foot green, fairway and sand trap. It's the first of its kind.

The concept was developed by Arne Swanson, the market director for the park and a golfer himself. He apparently got the idea when he saw a group of golfers spreading ashes at the golf course. "My thought was that there were likely other golfers who would like to be memorialized amid the surroundings of a verdant, peaceful golf course." He also liked that it would give the families a place they could visit to remember their loved one, not just a random spot in the middle of a public golf course.

As the NPR story pointed out, it seems unlikely this trend will pick up amongst other sports (a tennis player under a tennis court etc.) But it did get me thinking. If you could design your own special cemetery, what would it be?

Thanks to Thomas Quinn who sent me the link to this story.

Monday, December 5, 2011 by Amber Wollesen, MD · 0