I dare to say that Dialogue with the End is the ultimate Dialogue: its subject is something that many of us prefer to postpone or even to run away from.
Dialogue with the End is the most recent exhibition by Dialogue Social Enterprise. The idea was conceptualized by Andreas Heinecke, and put into realization thanks to filmmaker Sylvie Hohlbaum and photographer Steffen Baraniak. Dialogue with the End opened on a temporary basis last April 11th at the Haus im Park in Hamburg-Bergedorf, Germany. The exhibition was funded by Körber Foundation and Homann Foundation.
Dialogue with the End is a walk-through video and photography installation, it allows you to see how different people with terminal illnesses view death, inviting you to wonder about the topic yourself, through questions. As soon as you enter the exhibition, you are confronted with a forest of banners where you can find some of the basic, arguably even unpleasant questions: “What you definitely don’t want to miss?” “What you want to be remembered for?” “Do you want to live forever?”,” What you are grateful for?”,” What happens after dying?” “What if I die tomorrow?”, etc.
How did this exhibition come to life and how is its conceptualization born?
Andreas Heinecke has faced “the end” himself. Diagnosed twice with cancer, he is a cancer survivor who often asked himself these same questions. I asked him how come that he wanted these questions to find their place in the exhibition. Andreas stated, “These are basic questions everyone should ask himself. With the death in front of you and limited time you may not postpone these questions as they really matter. People should understand that time is their only asset, and they should not waste any second. And they should be grateful what they have, and not complain what they don’t have”.
The film interviews people who are currently confronted with the end, by having them answer the same questions from the banners. The interviews with people who are very old, terminally sick or experienced near death are captured. The film protagonists were present at the opening of the exhibition, and welcomed discussion with the participants.
An incredible portrait exhibition of the interviewees completes the experience. Here you have access to the images of those who dared to speak about death, dying, happiness, finitude in an open way.
After the video and photography walk-in, the visitors arrive at pin board and a stack of cards with the same questions. They are invited to answer the questions on a card in their own way – and place them on the pin wall.
Dialogue with the End has successfully been revealed in Bergedorf and it will tour in the future. We didn’t really expect that success, as the topic is rejected by many people, death is a taboo, and to dialogue with people in their final stage of life seems emotionally too challenging. But, it’s not. It’s enriching. Facing the end inspires you to live. Dialogue with the End is a font of life. When we dare to “Dialogue with the End”, we suddenly understand the precious gift of living. Let us then welcome one of the most challenging Dialogues, long life to the Dialogue with the End!