Nachlass: German word composed of «nach» (after) and the verb «lassen» (to leave). «Nachlass» corresponds to the whole of material and immaterial goods left by a deceased person.
In a more specific sense, especially in research, «Nachlass» indicates the totality of records (letters, works, documents...) that were in possession of a person or a collection that a person has built during his or her lifetime.
It seems that we have never so intensely reflected on death and the ephemeral, on time and eternity, than since the beginning of the 21st century.
Modern society, characterized by the German philosopher Walter Benjamin as a deathdenying one, willing to send the dying ones far from the domestic space, seems to have entered a new age, which grants death a new importance. We discuss assisted suicide and attend mass funerals. TV shows like “Six Feet Under” have found a large audience and the ashes of the deceased are preserved in the midst of our everyday lives: in our living rooms…
We struggle to normalize death, to control it, to make sense of it. In few countries is this phenomenon as visible as it is in Switzerland. In Switzerland, death is anticipated, staged and analysed with incomparable precision. Reputed institutes dedicate their research to digital simulations of the human brain. The implementation of new technologies aims to extend the human life span, soon not only to around 100 but over 150 years. At the same time, assisted suicide organisations make it possible to decide by ourselves when is time to end our lives. In the framework of a pilot project, LSD is experimentally given to people during the terminal phase of their illness in order to release anxieties. In anticipation of their deaths, people cancel insurances, delete Internet accounts, write medical directives and choose the type of burial they want. And what about wealth and inheritance? The inheritance tax amounts to zero in some areas of Switzerland, which results in the fact that wealth is passed on within wealthy communities rather than distributed according to social standards.
However, in spite of all our efforts, the challenge that is our mortality does not allow itself to be neutralized, and the scandal that death conveys will not be muted by a series of medical experiments. Some questions linger and will, sooner or later, haunt everyone of us: What will remain of myself after my “self” is gone? What will be put to waste? How have I lived my life? How will those whom I love continue to live after my departure? Will I stay alive in their memories even after my death? And up to which point and until when will these memories persist?
Ancient philosophers considered it necessary and important to contemplate human mortality. For Seneca, this preoccupation was essential for a serene death. Epicure concluded that the fear of man before his death was actually a logical fallacy: Where death rules, we do not exist. We cannot imagine death, because death extinguishes imagination itself. 2000 years later, Bertolt Brecht put it in other words: “Nothing can be wrong with me if I myself am nothing”. There are philosophers, though, who argue that it is actually this incapability of imagining death that makes us fear it so horrendously. And that it is this fear that throughout human history has produced the countless images, narratives and art works revolving around death. Death, according to these philosophers, is the only human experience that we cannot get a testimonial on. Nachlass is an attempt to bear witness, not on death itself but on the journey every one of us sooner or later will be obliged to take. How can absence be made present? How can you tell the story of a story that has already ended?
The performance goes on The English and French laguages with the Russian subtitlings
Duration – 1:50
st. metro Kyrskaya/ Chkalovskaya
4-й Сыромятнический пер., 1/8, стр. 6
Photos © Samuel Rubio