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10 Contemporary Artworks That Confront Mortality

“Have you ever heard a death rattle before?” the neurotic Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) asks Edward Norton’s character in David Fincher’s Fight Club. It’s a morbid, but amusing moment in the film that we thought of when looking at the work of Saskia Moore this week. Reality Sandwich featured the artist’s sound piece Dead Symphony, which we discuss past the break. It explores the sounds of near-death experiences. Artists have pondered mortality for centuries, and we’ve singled out ten contemporary artworks that confront the subject head-on.

We’ve read about people who have had near-death experiences who see a bright light or a tunnel, but apparently those folks sometimes hear music. Melbourne artist Saskia Moore explores this phenomenon in her sound project Dead Symphony by recreating those sounds. “It’s a digital, synthetic sound — that’s how a lot of people describe it. Very beautiful, often like a choral sound but with sustained notes. Some said it was melodic, almost like chimes but not like church bells and not religious. It has a cascading pattern, almost like a vibraphone dueling with itself in an endless pattern,” the artist explained.

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