Recycled


2011
Five abandoned gravestones with newly engraved names
Dimensions variable

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Recycled

In geological terms, the human life cycle is very short. The cycle of stone, from volcanic matter into mountains, is very slow, and yet it is from here that the material commonly used for grave markers is taken.

The current rate of population growth is 250,000 people each day. This affects burial practices, so that the eternal resting place of an individual is now a patch of land with a short rental contract. In many countries, the agreement between the Christian church and an individual is standardized to 25 years, even if during this period of time saprotrophs have no chance to decompose the human body. Grave markers today are often very thin compared with those of 100 years ago, when the population of the world was much smaller. So even in that way, we must save space and natural resources because of the number of human beings. However, gravestones could be recycled from person to person by simply scratching out one name and replacing it with another.

“Recycled” is about demographic change in a global as well as a local sense. As the economies and populations of European countries stagnate, Asian, Arab and Latin American countries are booming and growing. The old names on the stones reflect the old (German) society, and on these heavy old stones there is space for poems, rhymes and eulogies. The new names on the same gravestones reflect the global trends that have also become local trends through immigration.

The most common man’s name in Germany is replaced by Mohammed, the most common name in the world. For women's names, Maria is still holding strong, because of its popularity in Latin America. The most common last name is now Chang. And as all these names have long ago superseded names like Smith or Miller, so also is the land being inherited by new, vital populations – or what used to be the resting place of Oma Gertraud is statistically becoming that of Mohammed.


Die Weltpopulation steigt um 250 000 Personen täglich. Aus Platzmangel sind Mietverträge für letzte Ruhestätten begrenzt, normalerweise auf 25 Jahre pro Platz. Grabsteine und Monumente werden immer noch für die Dauer von Jahrtausenden hergestellt, und normalerweise werden sie nach einmaligem Gebrauch zu Kies zermahlen. Um natürliche Ressourcen und menschliche Kräfte zu sparen sowie Landschaften zu schützen, könnten dieselben Grabsteine für viele Personen weiter genutzt werden. Die neuesten Namen und Daten auf den wiederverwendeten Steinen basieren auf den weltweit häufigsten Namen (z.B. Muhammed ist der gebräuchlichste Vorname und Chang der häufigste Nachname) sowie den größten Generationen in der Geschichte, und sie geben die statistischen Durchschnittslebenserwartungen wieder.