Borrowed Time

on death, dying & change

Borrowed Time: on death, dying & change

[image (top): Sarah Gillespie: Fallen Bee  detail]


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What constitutes ‘a good death’? How do we know death, personally? What room do we make for the dead –– within our relationships, our ways of speaking, our shared geographies? And how might the insights of end-of-life care and death practices help us to navigate the fundamental unsustainability of the dominant culture, and to better imagine what comes after it?

From now until the end of November 2021 is opening a space to explore these and other questions pertaining to death, dying and change, and to ask what dying has to teach us about living well, and living sustainably. This space will include and culminate in a series of happenings and events throughout November 2021 with a special closing event in collaboration with our friends at Onca as they mark the 10th anniversary of their renowned Remembrance Day for Lost Species. [See the call for artists for this year’s Remembrance Day.] 

We proposed our theme before the world was gripped by a global pandemic. Whilst still overshadowed by civilisation’s ongoing extermination of the natural world, Borrowed Time’s parallel, human thread – our relationship with and understanding of personal dying – has most certainly been sharpened by the more than a million lives lost so far to Covid 19.  

While many experience death as sudden or violent, dying more often comes to us gradually. That there is a deep resource of hope, wisdom and resilience to be found in confronting and preparing for death’s arrival is something long understood, across all cultures. What, then, might such preparation entail in the context of anthropogenic mass-extinction? 

One way or another, this greater dying now presses upon us – whether we are experiencing ecological loss and displacement first-hand or negotiating the uneasy, grief-laden sense of borrowed time that has become an insistent background noise for many. How might those whose lives are as yet relatively sheltered by structural or geographic privilege learn to listen better to the obscure, too-big-to-hear keening of mass extinction? Might art and shared testimony prove better equipped to hold and integrate such unimaginable loss than the spreadsheet, the relentless graph?  

In the face of these interlocked dilemmas we’ll come together to re-align our time here together by turning to meet death – through story and song, personal witness and critical discussion, feasting and silence. Whilst we welcome academic papers and expect focussed panels to form a valued element of this gathering, we’re also specifically inviting people to bring other and perhaps less tried-and-tested ways of speaking to death, dying and change. These might include experiments with embodied knowing, deep listening, or movement. Proposals of performative and other artwork are invited, as are ideas for ritual and ceremony. Workshops whose durations may run an hour, half a day, or even all night are most welcome, as well as equivalent opportunities for smaller group work that allow for a more intimate sharing of experience.  

The programme of activity will, amongst virtual and real gatherings, speak to the inherent vulnerability invoked by its theme, providing opportunities to travel in company, gathering regularly over a period of time as smaller peer groups for thematically-linked sessions which invite participants to question their frames and understandings, learn more from one another’s knowledge and experience, and together risk the uncertainties, heartbreaks, and resurrections that death offers us. Because we all face uncertainty in 2021 we are opening up the proposal process to your own invention and imagination, so that you can help us shape, share, and disseminate this coming-together of minds and souls. 

We invite you to a coming together and a sharing of tales, practices and ideas where an end-of-life carer may find themselves sharing a conversation with a poet, a dancer and a climate scientist, and where the nature of our theme may steer such conversations towards the urgency, honesty and radical hospitality called for by a time of accelerating change.


Programme of Events

The events programme will continue to emerge throughout the year with the main programme being announced towards the end of January.

Watch this space for additional information.



Falmouth University

The Dark Mountain Project


Organising committee 


Key Dates

Deadline for proposals: 13 December 2020 – thanks to everyone who sent in a proposal. You will hear back from us around January 25.

Programme announced: 27 January 2021 

Bookings and registration will open 25 Januaty 2021