Artists: Pepa Bugueiro Domingo, Michal Marencik, 2011 (c)

The sound of silence, sektor 33, composition upon the zentralfriedhof

“Say a number between one and ten,” one of us asked the waitress. That is how our project at Wien Bestattung (municipal funeral director) started. She reacted with, “Was? What?” and then said, “Six. Six euros for two melanges”. That same day we started a tour through several offices of the institution. All we got were echoed answers to our imprecise requests and bewilderment on an equally uncertain data hunt.
   Misled, with a looming fear of the compass of the endeavour, our walk took us to the Zentralfriedhof.
Finitude. An existence obsessed with an end. Bare life, aesthetics of death, aesthetics of life.
A feeling which belongs to Romanticism? There exists a complacency about it. Naturally. Although, in our Western culture, it seems a delicate topic to arise. Is it legitimate to question this exposure? All these unbreakable silences, severe textures, the design of mass cemeteries outside the city! Perhaps a great example of the architecture of death, Vienna’s is the most peacefully populated cemetery in Europe. In its time commissioned to draw a frontier between the living and the malade dead, a border designed and masked as an ambitious garden, a privileged space where one encounters an expression,our walk took us to the Zentralfriedhof
   The space rested still, respectful six feet underground, ‘ the wells of silence’. The devoid metaspace, eternally silent. To be epitomised throughout our work ‘Silence, mortal beings! Nothingness’ ‘Vain grandeur, silence! Eternity’. Silent as sound noted on paper
 A written composition! Which is a node of such dimensional translations. The melody is visualised, or rather the visualisation is melodised. Modifying the dimension of silence: from hearing the nothingness, to encoding, to sounded silence. Programming this melody, recalling the beginnings of such a science, encoding music. A general architecture of frequencies based on the architecture of death.
Such a composition. Not composed, but collected. Position, sector, row, date of death, burial, birth, several sets of these dates per grave. Numbers on a grid drawing a map. Visibility and invisibility.
‘Boundaries between life and death are at best shadowy and vague’. We closely observed those numbers surrounding the growing nature. Trees, ‘evoked majesty of essence of beings’, addressing the new Eden, planted at the cemetery to weep away mortal exhalations. More closely, differences surface between the originally gardened trees and those growing wild among the tombstones.


Fact Box

The sound of silence, sektor 33, composition upon the zentralfriedhof
June 21, 2011