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Exhibition explores end of life themes

Brighton visual arts organisation Fabrica has kicked off a programme aimed at exploring ageing and end of life with the commission A Cold Hand on a Cold Day by video artist Jordan Baseman.

His three films explore what happens to the body between death and burial and societal attitudes to the deceased person.

The programme – Into That Good Night – which will consist of three major exhibition commissions and a series of stand-alone events and discussions over the next five years, is part of a larger series of work, Growing an Older Audience, a cross border collaboration between arts organisations in France and the UK.

This looks at finding new ways to reach older people, encourage them to take part and remove physical or other barriers.
It also involves making new work that comes directly out of issues most pertinent to people towards the end of their life: ageing, dying and death and works to introduce these themes to a younger age group. This is in the belief that the earlier we engage with the idea of our own mortality the more empowered we will be to deal with the process. 

Jordan Baseman’s proposal was selected from a shortlist of six and a further two proposals – from Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva and Steven Eastwood – were lined up for exhibitions in 2015 and 2017 respectively. The commissions look at death, its aftermath and our relationship to it. Each is supported by an education programme and is developed as a collaborative venture between the commissioned artist, palliative care professionals, academics and staff at Fabrica. 

Despite the gravity of the subject matter, the Into That Good Night programme is devised to engage a broad audience. 
It developed as an idea in 2010 from the steering group of Growing an Older Audience, which established that appropriate end-of-life care for the dying person can often be compromised by the fact that they are resistant to the idea that their death is upon them – and that this reluctance to engage with the idea of one’s own death may be symptomatic of a more general attitude in rich societies which is to avoid thinking about death as a natural part of life.

Photo above: How to Manage Stillness by Jordan Baseman, courtesy of Matt's Gallery, London

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