The Memento Mori festival Vienna

We all die and that’s why we must talk about it!

The Memento Mori festival took it upon itself to break through barriers and taboos when it comes to death and the thematization of it. Till the 17th of October young and old will have the chance to walk into the Volkskundemuseum, at Laudongasse 15-17 in the 8th district, and hear about death. From various stories of the ones who have lost one or more loved ones to the question of how we shouldn’t fear talking about our grief and the sorrows that come with it, death will be discussed in depth in this one of a kind program. Many different, intercultural events approach death on another level, like the “Adieu-Tücher” workshop, in which a different approach is taken, involving visitors stitching their own cloths.

Initiator Tina Zickel poured her heart into planning the festival, we got the chance to sit down with her and talk about her own definition of death and the taboos circling it.

The Memento Mori Festival

SV: What personal meaning does death have to you?

Zickel: That’s always depending on one’s perspective. The second you are experiencing the loss of a loved one you suddenly realize what a force death has. If you visit the Kapuzinergruft, you will find a skull wearing a crown. This once again illustrates deaths power. The power to just snatch somebody from this life. It can be many things, that’s why talking about it is essential.

SV: How do you feel about Vienna’s intimate relationship with death? It almost feels like a connection you won’t find somewhere else in this world.

Zickel: I don’t think that Vienna’s connection to death is that significant. It may have been once, but nowadays it’s almost as if it gets pushed away from Vienna’s cityscape. It is more a stereotype than anything else. In Mexico, for example, you will find a yearly celebration of death that truly reminiscent of the memories of the ones that have once been.

SV: Are there any taboos when it comes to thematizing death?

Zickel: There are many taboos about death and the way we talk about it. We tried to change that with our exhibition and the festival. Miscarriages and deaths of children are a big taboo in our hemisphere. There’s no true space to talk about grief, about the scars we carry from it. People avoid grieving people more than they approach them. This is frustrating, we all have the right to grieve how and for as long as we need it.

SV: How is the feedback? Do you talk to any visitors of the festival?

Zickel: The feedback is solely positive. You can tell that our events touch people on a deeper level. This festival gives people a chance to connect, to emphasize with one another, to find a sympathetic ear for the stories of their losses.

SV: Is there anything else you want to say, something that got no mention till now?

Zickel: The intercultural aspect of our festival was and is very important to me. We discuss aspects of many cultures, how they grief and explain death. We have events that give insights on taboos about death in Japan, Croatian death cults, Jewish rituals and many more.

You can find more information about the Memento Mori festival here:

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