Rehearse your own funeral at Vienna art exhibit

Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:39am EDT
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By Sylvia Westall

VIENNA (Reuters Life!) - If you want to make sure everything goes to plan on your special day...then rehearse your own funeral in Vienna, with music, flowers and an audience.

Conceptual artists Gary O'Dwyer and Pierre Coinde have been encouraging people in the Austrian capital to lie back on a white, elevated tomb-like platform in the city's central Karlsplatz while they play a chosen funeral song.

Their art installation, which has passed through Frankfurt, Istanbul, Toronto and Venice, blends in well with Vienna, the home of elaborate funerals and with one of the world's few museums dedicated to death.

"Some people are curious, some are horrified, like you have asked them to do something terrible," O'Dwyer said.

"But for us it is about remembering to live. It gives people the chance to make a statement through a song."

Classical music is a popular choice in the home of Beethoven, while some people choose more tongue-in-cheek tracks like Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive' or Falco's 'Rock me Amadeus,' one of Austria's few international pop hits.

Florian Wagner, 24, opts for Phantom/Ghost's eerie song 'Relax it's Only a Ghost' as he lies back on a red pillow in the sunshine next to a plinth decked with flowers.

Passers-by on their way to a nearby concert house stare quizzically at his inanimate body while others stand solemnly and watch the ceremony.   Continued...

<p>A woman practises her own funeral as part of an art installation "The Centre of Attention" in Vienna October 18, 2008. REUTERS/Pierre Coinde at The Centre of Attention</p>