Commemorative Album

Prototype

A4 landscape format, 114 color pages
Fabric book cover bound by hand with calligraphy tag
Nickel-plated screws (20 mm)
Content: 25 chapters, cca. 400 photos & illustrations
2010

 


Project Description

After a friend was murdered I had the desire to commemorate her life by picking up on an idea she had had before her untimely death: She wanted to put together an album with her friends’ photos. In close collaboration with her sister, I produced this album consisting of obituaries by 36 different authors (family, friends, teachers, employers). The articles each represent an episode in my friends life in a reverse chronological order (from the funeral backwards to her birth) and are illustrated with her fotos and drawings. The final chapter is an autobiographic parable, in which the deceased reflected upon her own personality and thwarts the impressions others had of her. Symbolic plants whith a certain relevance to the deceased’s botanical interest were associated with each chapter.

Objective

The book was intended as an aid to help the bereaved work through the mourning process. By writing the obits and picking the photographs they had an opportunity to sort their memories of the deceased and frame their painful experience in a structured and creative fashion. Moreover, the book provided insights into the social network of their daughter, sister, friend, etc. and her position in it. The articles and pictures were more encompassing than regular condolences expressed in letters or books. Edited passages from her diary were meant to allow for a better understanding of the deceased’s restrained personality.

Co-ordination & Duration

We worked on this book project between March 2009 and April 2010 (the workload increased during the last four months, up until then we gathered material and worked out the concept). Right after the funeral, we handed out a letter to the bereaved in which we presented our project idea. In order to facilitate the collaboration with the authors, the project was documented on kati.pregartner.net as it progressed. Sensitive information was password protected and therefore not publicly available.

 


Book Presentation & Commemoration

We concluded the project with a small gathering to present the book and commemorate our friend on the occasion of the first anniversary of her death. The ceremony was held between 3 and 7 p.m. at a pub run by students of Vienna Agricultural University, 25 visitors attended. During the ceremony, a delegation of singers of the Cantus Novus choir sang 5 pieces from the repertoire which the deceased had participated in. In between, the authors present read their articles from the book. The last article was presented by the deceased’s mother, who improvised passages in Upper Austrian dialect. A fellow student preferred to extemporize on her friendship with the deceased. A commemorative candle was lit throughout the ceremony. Finally, the prototype was officially presented to the family, who donated a gift basket in return. After the rite, we offered an organic and vegetarian buffet in the pub’s outdoor area sitting under the chestnut trees socializing and sharing our memories of the deceased. As in the invitation, cherry blossoms served as decoration. Next to the buffet, there was a table where the book and other memorabilia were presented.