jessica charlesworth

THE MeMo ORGANISATION @ Chicago Cultural Center

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The Latin phrase memento mori,meaning “remember you will die”, denotes objects which remind us of our mortality. What alternative Memento Mori rituals might be created in light of current developments in technology, philosophy and science?

Cloaked in the fictional identity of The MeMo Organization, I present a cabinet of seven curious objects and stories that explores a range of poetic practices and attitudes towards death and mourning. MeMo is a research-based initiative that recognizes the way cultural shifts have created new relations toward death and experiences of finality. Such change opens the door to more personal, relevant and contemporary experiences of death. The MeMo Cabinet distills research ranging over a wide field into a collection of tools which facilitate a series of intimate narratives voiced by characters struggling in various ways with mortality.

The MeMo Cabinet is distilled from a wide ranging field of research. The recent medicalization and banishment of death & mourning from public experience, the emergence of hospice care, the funeral industry & the green burial movement, the impact of new digital & biological technologies & a growing desire for increased meaning in the service of the dying self.


The MeMo Organization Cabinet was created in conjunction with the exhibit, Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection  on display at the Chicago Cultural Center from January 28th – July 8th 2012.

The MeMo Organization Cabinet was accompanied by a The Beginner’s Guide to Dying –a MeMo Panel Discussion hosted at the Chicago Cultural Center that explored past and present attitudes towards death and discussed the new practices proposed in the exhibit.

Visit The MeMo Organization website and the MeMo Facebook Page for more information

Concept, writing, sketches & modelmaking by Jessica Charlesworth
MeMo Identity,  booklet typset & layout by Romain Andre
Presented by Michael Graham of Balloon Contemporary

MeMo Organization Cabinet Installation at Chicago Cultural Center

Sounds To Die By, 2012: Story and Sketch from the MeMo Booklet

Sounds To Die By, 2012 : RP ABS plastic, leather case, foam, jack plugs, latex

Our BioAge, Sketch & Story page from the MeMo Booklet

Our BioAge, 2012. A lasercut acrylic medicine cabinet filled with individually designed and made supplements for two people for each day of the week. Each day has a range of daily anti--aging supplements and pro-aging supplements depending on which regime either one of the couple are on.

Our BioAge, 2012

Without You, 2012: Sketch & Story page from the MeMo Booklet

Without You, 2012: Latex, polymer clay, leather, chain. microphone head

Ambient Traces , 2012 Sketch & Story page from the MeMo Booklet

Ambient Traces, 2012: Pencil on Paper

Ambient Traces, 2012 - Plaster, maple, cotton, polyester, acrylic

Ambient Traces, 2012. Using an exact replica of their head, a mourning service leaves small traces of a loved one recently passed away to guide the mourner through the grieving process.

For As Long As We Both Shall Live, 2012: Sketch & Story page from the MeMo Booklet

For As Long As We Both Shall Live, 2012 .A nuptial mask with integrated augur and fluid chamber for two newlyweds to commit their spittle into the permafrost of Siberia.

Object Of My Fears, 2012, Sketch & Story page from the MeMo Booklet

Object Of My Fears, 2012. A physical representation of a tumor becomes a jewellery piece - a memento mori worn as a reminder of survival.

The Weeping Farm, 2012, Sketch & Story page from the MeMo Booklet

The Weeping Farm, 2012. Handkerchief with pocket to conceal tearcatcher used to pay for funeral. Lysozyme in our tears can be cultivated into antibiotics to eradicate anthrax: bit.ly/tearsanthrax

MeMo Booklet by Romain Andre

Introduction page, MeMo Booklet by Romain Andre

MeMo Identity
Business cards & GIF by Romain Andre 

MeMo Press Quotes

MeMo Co., a mock company devised by the speculative designer Jessica Charlesworth. Though slick and ironic in presentation, the company’s wares resonate with surprising sensitivity. A tumor becomes a bulbous gold ring, rendering sickness visible and impotent. A mold of the beloved’s face, left on the mourner’s pillow, provides traces that soothe. A regimen of pills allows lovers of different ages to sync up their life spans.
Could death really be so gentle, with the help of technology?

– Lori Waxman, ‘Morbid Curiosity’ captivates, repels at the Chicago Cultural Center’, Chicago Tribune, May 09 2012

Here, the literal mementos of death are on display in the form of the pills and syringes of medical treatment or the bedclothes and personal ephemera of hospice care. These objects, and further dreamlike flourishes from some dystopian but none-too-distant future, interweave with a fictive narrative that tells the story, in gripping first person perspective, of an individual living through their partner’s disease, palliation and, finally, death. Charlesworth is an excellent writer. The alternate universe of customs and rituals she describes is both lushly rendered and emotively conveyed in such a way that it feels immediately accessible.

– Maura Lucking, The Dying Self, Fnews Magazine, March 19th 2012

MeMo Research Links

The MeMo Cabinet is distilled from a wide ranging field of research. The recent medicalization and banishment of death & mourning from public experience, the emergence of hospice care, the funeral industry & the green burial movement, the impact of new digital & biological technologies & a growing desire for increased meaning in the service of the dying self.

Ambient Traces
What if there was a service to ease the grief of
losing my partner? 

The Hasting Center: End of Life
Center for Death and Society 
Ways to Deal with Grief 

For As Long As We Both Shall Live
What if we could live as long as Siberian Actinobacteria?
Vacations to the Siberian Permafrost
Photographer captures oldest living organism
Transhumanism and the Posthuman Future
Can We Live Forever?

 


5 Responses

  1. […] also wanted to share the work of Jessica Charlesworth, the brains behind MeMo. Cloaked in the fictional identity of the MeMo Organization, Jessica presents a cabinet of […]

  2. […] ‘MeMo’ Objects exploring mortality / technology veiwable at- MeMo ORGANIZATION CABINET @ Chicago Cultural Center – jessica charlesworth. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. ArtBereavementCommemorationCritical […]

    • jessicac says:

      Thanks for the mention! If you want more info let me know, sounds like you are doing some interesting stuff.

  3. Katherine says:

    Some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking pieces I have ever seen. Absolutely brilliant.

    • jessicac says:

      Thank you Katherine, MeMo’s intent is indeed to though provoke, im glad it has succeeded in doing so.

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