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Pere-Lachaise Cemetery

Ida-Simone Brerup, Angelina Grigorian

Jonathan Riese & Olga Kononenko


Where’s the Line?

So much space, not used for anything.

Well, bodies, yes.

But are those worth keeping in such a massive and dominating way?

I don’t know.


Trees growing through the graves,

not directly through the body though,

haven’t there been studies of trees growing from ashes?

Old bodies in the graves became one with earth,

the plants symbolizing how it is growing out of the tomb stone.  

Nature takes over; something beautiful,

life continues.

It is full of life.

Children and families surrounding me,

a continuous beautiful family gathering where all the souls unite.  

Would the souls in the graves be able to see the sunlight that’s above them today?

How can it be so beautiful here?

These massive chapels on top of graves,

reminds us about the person or their family.

How they desired to be buried there,

to be remembered there,

to continue their eternal life there.

A body we can’t see, but we know is there.

To be recognised, remembered, and honoured by others.

How do bodies know that we are honouring them?

It’s only us who know,

our hearts,

our mind,

and our love.


Every person forms their own feeling when it comes to attending a cemetery.

To some it’s a place of calm memories,

but to some it’s a place of grief.

Making Pere Lachaise a place of memory, rather than a place of death.

But hasn’t it become more of a tourist attraction?

The reality of the future imagined, buried in the great Pere Lachaise,

amongst famous historic figures and artists;

seems not as bright as pictured.

People disregarding the purpose of visiting loved ones,

instead paying a visit to the cemetery to mark a check,

next to “visited the Pere-Lachaise in Paris”.

Sights of tourists holding grave maps,

taking pictures next to lifeless, famous french artists and musicians,

how does this identify a spiritual place of memory or grief?

Struggling to come closer to the grave of your loved one,

waiting for a sightseer to get the perfect angle on his picture.

Is that what remembering and honouring the dead is about?

Getting a photo of Oscar Wilde’s grave?

Is the safe heaven, simply you knowing when you’re alive,

that this is where you’ll lay?

Not moving a bone while being posed on for an instagram picture?

Knowing that this is where your grandchildren will visit you,

unable to get a single silent moment.

it seems unsettling.

Maybe that is where you wanted to be,

A peaceful, chaotic cemetery.


When your grave is abandoned,

the flowers withered.

Have you been forgotten?

Did you live for nothing?

You continue to live through your family.

Nature takes back from your body.

Should we all just become a forest?

Would that give us more peace?

Would people walk on top of bodies?

Where’s the line?

People walk close to the bodies at Pere-Lachaise;

with barely any space in between graves.

Do we even need to be placed in caskets?

Are caskets even necessary?

Should we grow a forest on our ashes as the soil?

Is that a scary thought?

Not knowing who you are walking on; if anyone at all.

What is the importance of the bodies after their loss?

Their bones;

right under our feet in a little box,

how flattering is that?

Are you important enough to have your body placed there for eternity?

Well not eternity, but bought for 50, 30 or 10 years.

If you are lucky enough to have family that wants to take care of your grave,

lay there for another 50, 30 or 10 years;

Do you even want to be lucky?

It seems immoral to struggle keeping your loved one unmoved from the cemetery.

What is the importance of laying there?

If it’s not released, the body and bones are moved,

many graves have dozens of bodies in them to save space,

squeezing an increasing number of bodies into an already crowded space.

These days, it’s a privilege to be buried at this cemetery,

while it being quite challenging to keep your loved one unmoved.

Do you want to go through all that trouble?


Crosses, stars, crescent moons,

so many different symbols,

laying next to each other,

can there be a graveyard for more than one God?

Could you even call this cemetery religious?

So many people have not been to a church for decades,

yet end their presence on earth being praised by a priest.

Isn’t it all superficial?

The ceremony of funerals is essential,

the last chance to say “goodbye”.

That is how people have done it for centuries;

the only way they know to let go.

Or do they all turn religious once they are dying?

Nobody wants to fade into darkness,

an end to their conscience, thoughts,

all they have lived for.

Believing in religion,

a life after death, maybe resurrection,

it makes it easier, more comfortable.

What about the families?

It gives them hope,

that their loved ones are not gone, their spirit still with them,

waiting to be reunited in death.

Is that the reason for religion?

To take away the fear of death?


It’s a sign of love, devotion, life, and remembrance;

somewhere you can apply all of your thoughts;

in one place, one person, one family.

I like that thought.


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