Bridging Two Worlds

Morbid Anatomy at Greenwood Cemetery

Today, many people see the death of the body as the end of life. For most of human history, however, many believed — as some still do — that the dead continued to live on after death in another, invisible world. These worlds could be bridged by individuals such as the shaman, medium, and the priest. There was also the psychopomp, whose job it was to guide the souls of the dead from this world to the next.

Bridges between the worlds could also take the form of practices, including rituals, ancestor worship, sacrificial offerings, and prayer. Some cultures even believed that there were special times of the year when the boundaries between the worlds were particularly porous, allowing the dead to pay a visit to the land of the living, such as Mexico’s Day of the Dead or Chinese New Year.

Today, we continue to create metaphoric bridges between the land of the living and the land of the dead; doctors and scientists define and defy the boundaries between the worlds, while the study of history, familial and cultural traditions, the contemplation of objects from the past, and monuments we build to remember the dead — including cemeteries such as Green-Wood — create bridges that allow us to honor and stay in communion with those we have lost.

Curated by Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier, this exhibition seeks to explore the ways in which we bridge the worlds of the living and the dead via objects and artworks drawn from collection of the greater Morbid Anatomy Community and Green-Wood Historic Fund.

Bridging Two Worlds: The Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead
Green-Wood Cemetery
from September 22 to Dec 2, 2018
New York

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