Buried Alive (performance)

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Buried Alive
Monochrom's "Buried Alive" at VSL Lindabrunn 2013.jpg
monochrom's "Buried Alive" at VSL Lindabrunn 2013

Buried Alive is an art and lecture performance series by art-tech group monochrom. The basic concept is to offer willing participants the opportunity of being buried alive in a real coffin underground for fifteen to twenty minutes. As a framework program, monochrom offers lectures about the history of the science of determining death and the medical cultural history of premature burial. The series has created controversy[1][2] in some places it has been staged.

monochrom's founder and conceptualist Johannes Grenzfurthner states that the performance series wants to start a conversation about death, culture, medical and scientific myths and mass media.[3] Grenzfurthner says that one of the inspirations for the performance series was the wish to deal with his claustrophobic tendencies.[4]

Over the years the performance has attracted a lot of mainstream media coverage like the popular German TV show Joko gegen Klaas[5] on Pro7 and the Austrian TV series Herr Ostrowski sucht das Glück[6][7] on ORF.

Experience the Experience of Being Buried Alive[edit]

The first public burials were organized in 2005, 2006 and 2007 as part of a performance tour. People in Los Angeles (at Machine Project),[8] San Francisco,[9] Vancouver[10][11] and Toronto[12][13] had the opportunity to be buried alive in a real coffin for fifteen minutes. No cell phones, lamps or other devices were allowed inside the coffin. Participants had to sign a damage waiver. monochrom provided a 45 minute lecture about the history of premature burial and offered a set of different funeral marches and songs about death as "Death Jockeys".

Six Feet Under Club[edit]

Preparations for monochrom's "Six Feet Under Club" (2010)

In 2010 monochrom updated the original concept and created the "Six Feet Under Club".[14][15][16] Couples could volunteer to be buried together in a casket beneath the ground. In a press release they explained that the space they occupy is "extremely private and intimate". The coffin "is a reminder of the social norm of exclusive pair bonding 'till death do us part'." However, this intimate scene was corrupted by the presence of a night vision webcam which projects the scene on to an outside wall. The scenario kept the intimacy of a sexual moment intact while moving the private act into public space. monochrom's performance can be seen as an absurd parody of pornographic cinema or an examination of the high value placed on sexual privacy.[17][18]

The performance was repeated at the Viennese club Schwelle 7 in 2013 and 2014.[19][20]

Buried Alive (installation)[edit]

Since 2011 monochrom offers a constant burial site at VSL Lindabrunn in Lower Austria.[21][22][23]


  1. ^ Toronto Star: "Alarm raised over burial performance"
  2. ^ Bild.de: "Im TV-Duell gegen Klaas: Joko lässt sich lebendig begraben", 5 January 2014
  3. ^ monochrom's "Experience the Experience of Being Buried Alive"
  4. ^ Zebrabutter: "Der Film Glossary of Broken Dreams oder: Im Schlachthaus Zum Goldenen Kalb"; April 25, 2018
  5. ^ Pro7's Joko gegen Klaas – Das Duell um die Welt: "Joko in Österreich: Jokos Begräbnis"
  6. ^ Herr Ostrowski sucht das Glück: "In der Einsamkeit"
  7. ^ Freizeit: "Michael Ostroswki über das Glück", April 2014
  8. ^ Downtown LA: "Goodbye Maestro, and Are You Experienced?", 20 June 2005
  9. ^ Boing Boing: "Monochrom art happenings in San Francisco, July 8-23", 5 July 2005
  10. ^ The Georgia Strait: "Austrian artists play in the underworld", 14-21 July 2005
  11. ^ National Post: "Vienna's Gift To The City Of Vancouver: An Early Grave", 14 July 2005
  12. ^ Toronto Star: "How to be buried alive", Erin Kobayashi, 6 February 2007
  13. ^ Torontoist: "Attend your own funeral", Pandora Syperek, 6 February 2007
  14. ^ sfist.com: "Want to Be Buried Alive With Your S.O. and Make Out With Them While Others Watch Via Webcam?", 2 October 2010 Archived 2 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Daily Loaf, CL Tampa Bay: "The Six Feet Under Club offers sex in a buried coffin", 28 September 2010
  16. ^ SF Weekly: "Couples Have Sex In Coffin Buried In Dumpster ", 7 October 2010
  17. ^ 'Dirty Deeds Done Six Feet Deep', in Rue Morgue, January 2011
  18. ^ "Six Feet Under Club takes Sex To New Depths", in 'Carnal Nation', 2010 Archived 2010-12-13 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Heute: "Sex im Sarg: Alle sind schon sehr erregt", 29 November 2013
  20. ^ Huck Magazine: "The Six Feet Under Club: an art project burying kinky couples alive", 31 March 2016
  21. ^ Mein Bezirk: "Kunstinstallation Buried Alive"
  22. ^ OTS: "Das Nahtod-Erfahrungs-Doppelfeature"
  23. ^ eSeL.at: "monochrom: Buried Alive Probeliegen"

External links[edit]