Saturday, May 4, 2013

An Anagram Ossuary for Cimetière du Père-Lachaise: A

Here is the first letter in a series whose collective body of work is meant to be considered a 'sentence'. Here is 'A'.  The publishing of the works will act as the enunciation of the sentence.

The first letter of the first word can be downloaded here for free from lulu.

From Wikipedia:

The Cemetery today

Père Lachaise is still an operating cemetery and accepting new burials. However, the rules to be buried in a Paris cemetery are rather strict: people may be buried in one of these cemeteries if they die in the French capital city or if they lived there. Being buried in Père Lachaise is even more difficult nowadays as there is a waiting list: very few plots are available. The gravesites at Père Lachaise range from a simple, unadorned headstone to towering monuments and even elaborate mini chapels dedicated to the memory of a well-known person or family. Many of the tombs are about the size and shape of a telephone booth, with just enough space for a mourner to step inside, kneel to say a prayer, and leave some flowers.

The cemetery manages to squeeze an increasing number of bodies into a finite and already crowded space. One way it does this is by combining the remains of multiple family members in the same grave. At Père Lachaise, it is not uncommon to reopen a grave after a body has decomposed and inter another coffin. Some family mausoleums or multi-family tombs contain dozens of bodies, often in several separate but contiguous graves. Shelves are usually fitted out to accommodate them.

In relatively recent times, Père Lachaise has adopted a standard practice of issuing 30-year leases on gravesites, so that if a lease is not renewed by the family, the remains can be removed, space made for a new grave, and the overall deterioration of the cemetery minimized. Abandoned remains are boxed, tagged and moved to Aux Morts ossuary, in Père Lachaise cemetery.

Plots can be bought in perpetuity, for 50, 30 or 10 years, the last being the least expensive option. Even in the case of mausoleums and chapels, coffins are most of the time below ground.

Aux Morts ossuary

Behind the Aux Morts (To the Dead) monument sculpted by Paul Albert Bartholomé lies an ossuary of the bones of Parisians from cemeteries all over the city, a smaller kind of modern day catacombs. Although the monument is well known, it is not general knowledge that it is also an ossuary, and its doors usually remain closed and locked to the public. When it became overcrowded recently, the bones were removed for cremation and returned to the ossuary after the incineration process. In the Père Lachaise ossuary, efforts are made to store bones and ashes in separate boxes.