Patrick Topitschnig

„All aspects of life, including death, are now accompanied by machines. The archaic notion of burial using hand tools is long passé. Massive excavators do the job of gravediggers while Mark and Garry discuss their work in Melbourne’s main cemetery. Silently, peacefully, the trees rock in the wind behind the rows of gravestones that remain as markers and representatives of a quondam human presence.“

 

Janina Falkner & Marlies Wirth

(Exhibition catalogue: VIENNA BIENNALE 2017: Robots. Work. Our Future)

 

 

In the video one of the gravediggers illustrates this romantic misconception when he makes the comment: "Normally, it doesn‘t look like this in the movies". Here the false conclusion of my romantic approach and the real situation becomes apparent. Hence, the video shows the contemporary process of digging a grave, executed by the two gravediggers Garry and Mark at Melbourne Central Cemetery.

 

The working individuals are actually never shown, but only the work, or the machines doing the work, respectively. There is a stark contrast between the precise measuring of the grave on the one hand and the brute digging of the hydraulic shovel on the other. Tranquility and noise, precise work and brute digging alternate in this windy and quiet cemetery setting.

 

However, statements such as "I don‘t like being watched while doing this." reveal the fact that the apparently deritualized work of digging a grave really still is and probably will remain a difficult and rather personal, burden of human work.

Vita

Mark&Garry

2013, HD-Video, 07min 19sec