I heard about Death Salon LA after avidly consuming tons of posts from The Order of the Good Death website, and immediately told one of my colleagues who shares my fascination with these topics. While we both do work primarily in the field of sexuality, these intersections of death, medicine, and culture are a big interest, and they are slowly entering our professional lives more and more. On my end, I deal a lot with HIV and domestic violence, while she’s working with cancer survivors and has her eye on palliative and hospice care as they relate to patients’ sexual lives. For these reasons (and because we both wanted a vacation!), we booked a trip from Rhode Island to Los Angeles and got ready for a weekend full of intellectual stimulation.
In just one day at Death Salon LA, I learned about demonic semen transfer systems, the mortification of female saints, cadaver saponification, decorated Bolivian and Peruvian skulls that are said to be miraculous, the mummified Capuchin hanging wall friars in Palermo, the democratization of images via post-mortem photography, anthropomorphic taxidermy, anatomical Venuses, St. Bartholomew’s flayed skin that he held as a sash, death cabarets in 20th century Europe, and more. The experience was wonderful and illuminating, and it balanced subjects so there would be something for everyone. The interdisciplinary and multimedia approach was fantastic and catered to a variety of knowledge levels. I feel this event can only get better and I’m terribly excited to see where it goes from here!
Photo by Elli Lauren Photography