Cultivating Death

© Gruber
23 minutes / Colour / 2003
Directed by
Martin Gruber


Country of production United Kingdom

Cemeteries are not only places for the dead. They are also spaces in which the living interact with each other – and with the dead. “Cultivating Death” depicts the different ways in which bereaved people remember and commemorate their deceased family members and friends, by visiting and tending their graves at a Victorian cemetery in London. It is a common belief in the West that the bereaved have to ‘let go’ and ‘get over the loss’ of their deceased kin, in order to return to a ‘normal’ life. In contrast to these cultural norms, many survivors maintain strong social relationships with their dead. “Cultivating Death” portrays some visitors of Kensal Green Cemetery in West-London, as they actively sustain these continuing bonds by arranging and tending the graves of their deceased, talking to them and bringing them gifts. They thereby speak frankly about this important aspect of their mourning for which the cemetery constitutes a unique environment.

Language and subtitles English (no subtitles)

Location(s) depicted London

Region British-Irish Isles

Country United Kingdom

Keywords Death Ritual