On Optimism and Death
Thursday 19 November, 3am
Gertrude Contemporary21-31 High St, Preston VIC 3072
This event is free and open to the public.
No bookings required but seating is limited.
Gertrude Contemporary in partnership with the Melbourne International Arts Festival was pleased to present a panel discussion in conjunction with the exhibition Hope Dies Last: Art at the End of Optimism. The panel discussion assembles a selection of esteemed speakers whose professional lives can involve considerations of death and grief. Drawing in a range of perspectives, the discussion traversed across ideas of mortality, memorialisation, the defence of life, and the pragmatics of death. Hopefully not as bleak as it sounds, On Optimism and Death offered a unique platform to consider the prospect of death and its impacts – personally and collectively – through the lenses of anthropology, the legal system, the arts and the funerary industry.
On Optimism and Death was chaired by Mark Feary, Artistic Director,
Eric Jong, exhibiting artist
In the exhibition Hope Dies Last, Eric Jong presented the work Death and Paperwork (2017), from the project Too Poor To Die focussing on destitute funerals for persons lacking the financial resources to pay for their own funerals. For this project, the artist worked closely with Bereavement Assistance, a not for profit organisation
Professor Tamara Kohn, Professor of Anthropology,
The University of Melbourne
Tamara Kohn is a Professor of Anthropology with extensive fieldwork experience in the Scottish Hebrides, the eastern hills of Nepal, and more recently Japan. She has held research and teaching positions in England (Oxford and Durham) and Australia (the University of Melbourne). Her research focuses on identity and experience, the study of trans-cultural communities of practice (from caring practices to sports and other embodied arts), mobility (migration, intermarriage, leisure/travel), death studies, methods and ethics, and the anthropology of the senses.
Audrey Lake, Funeral Consultant
Audrey Lake has spent 13 years working with death in diverse settings, beginning her career as a counsellor in palliative care. With an interest in forensics and the criminal justice process she moved onto roles with the Initial Investigations Office at the Coroners Court of Victoria and the Victims Support Unit at Victoria Police working with families through the early stages of unexpected or traumatic bereavement. Subsequently she transitioned into working as a mortician at the Victorian Institute of Forensic, a coronial undertaker and a funeral consultant for a not for profit
Michael O’Connell SC, Judge, County Court of Victoria
Michael O’Connell was appointed to the Victorian Bar in 1990 and as Senior Counsel in 2008. During his 30-year legal career, he has been involved in several homicide, terrorism, white collar crime, sexual offences and occupational health and safety cases. The barrister served as part of the team of Australian lawyers representing accused members of the Bali Nine, including Myuran Sukumaran.