Oder, die Liebe höret immer auf.
From the balcony of our apartment, we look out over the Georgenfriedhof. Located in Berlin – Prenzlauer Berg, the graveyard has been offering a final resting place for more than 200 years and frankly, has probably seen better days. But the lack of “better days” for a graveyard, is not necessarily something negative when you occasionally visit with a camera.
Markers at burial grounds are thought to date back many millennia, but placing gravestones on individual graves like we know the practice today in Western Europe, is a more recent tradition.
The reasons for erecting gravestones can be many, but one main reason is to honour a person and sustain their memory, as a way of extending their life over coming generations.
But, what happens when relatives and friends pass away; when no one is there for the upkeep; when there is no one who can – or want to – preserve the memory of the person buried? The extension of the dead person’s life by organising a grave and headstone, a second life of sorts, has then also come to an end.
That is death all over. Not the death of a physical person, but the death of their memory, of the remembrance. Death once more, Re:death.
Walking around the Georgenfriedhof, I one day came across what would at some point have been a grand family grave, straddling the outer wall. The inscription plate was long gone, but the epitaph at the top was still mostly visible:
“ ie Liebe h¨ret immer auf.”
Originally it had said “Die Liebe höret nimmer auf”, or love never ends. The n of nimmer had taken flight, leaving immer in its place, so that the epitaph now read “Die Liebe höret immer auf”, love always ends. It felt a fitting description of not just that grave, but many other ones in this graveyard and elsewhere. With the deceased long gone, as well as their friends and immediate family, the love, caring and remembrance are also long gone and what is left is the crumbled memory of what once was. The person has died, and now the physical memory of their existence is also dying.
This project looks at these markers and how they get neglected and forgotten.