I Died

I died last Friday night. My body was laid out in a makeshift morgue, in an art gallery of all places. Thirteen other corpses surrounded mine, all covered in light blue hospital sheets, a line of lifeless lumps, speed humps with toe tags and ball bags and breasts. Out of the darkness came the sounds of gathering people, glasses clinking, feet scraping, pleasantries and laughter, and then a familiar voice rang out – Silencio! An introduction, then a poem, four minutes of DH Lawrence and dread anticipation, a minor panic attack, and we were surrounded by the sounds of many shoes on parquet flooring, a chaotic percussive accompaniment to a lone cello meandering in a corner and my breath fluttering against the sheet.

One by one the covers were withdrawn, whisked away by unseen hands at our feet, giving one the sensation of being thrust upward and away to float awkwardly in a miasma of sensations, dreamy visions, a waterless sensory deprivation tank. It was difficult to keep track of my limbs. In fact my whole body, while remaining totally still, writhed and convulsed. Occasionally the reality, that I was lying naked (and alive) on the floor next to my partner and twelve other naked people, jerked back into consciousness, like when someone came and tickled my foot as they turned over my toe tag – so they could read my eulogy and connect it to my body.

My body. Naked and cold (well my feet were cold). Exposed to a single all-seeing, foot-scraping eye. God help me if I get an erection, I thought. And waking from a short doze, I was happy to find it still… relaxed. Stop thinking about sex, I thought, knowing that thinking about not thinking about sex is thinking about sex. Then I forgot to think about it as phantasmogorical visions teemed in the inky void. At one point I dreamt that my feelings were filling the room, that my sudden incomprehensible sense of joy was palpable.

For some indeterminate period of time I wrote this review, words streaming with an ease unimaginable now. I wrote about how each of us involved, the ‘muses’, the writers, the family members and friends (writers interviewed significant others), had been given the chance to transcend our preoccupation with the tedium and frustration, the minutiae of existence to pause in reflection; on the meaning of death (and therefore of life), on the vulnerability of our flesh, on our attitudes to nudity, voyeurism, privacy… And then it merged with a dream and was lost like most of my dreams.

I wished I had been able to both appear in and witness I Die. I wished my head wasn’t hurting so much where it connected with the mat. I enjoyed the part when someone bent down and whispered my name and held my head tenderly. During the q&a session afterwards I sculled red wine. I hate red wine. My favourite part was when all the muses read each others’ eulogies in the courtyard before the show. Everyone seemed pregnant with inner thoughts. There was laughter and some sobbing. I’m glad I died last Friday night.

PS. I Die was conceived, produced and directed by Min Mae. The eulogists were Naomi Milthorpe, Andrew Galan, Adam Hadley, David Finnigan, Joan Cornish, Anne-Maree Britton, Chanel Cole, Nat Burke, Emma Gibson, Hal Judge, Monica Carroll and Maria Fleming. It was presented in two separate showings, 7pm and 8pm, on Friday 20th March at CCAS, Gorman House.

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