Les Oubliés  “First, we will die – Then we will be forgotten”

Interview for Louisiana Channel by Marc-Christoph Wagner, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art – DK

What does a graveyard tell about life? Meet Danish artist Balder Olrik who has been walking around Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris for months, taking fascinating pictures of empty mausoleums.

“I looked into one of the mausoleums, and it hit me really hard in the stomach. There was a huge bouquet of flowers made of silk with hundreds of spiderwebs on top of it. It was really painful. At this moment, I realised that we are going to be forgotten.”

Olrik has recently been confronted with death in his personal life and took to Paris to recover from severe illness. By chance, he visited Père Lachaise and found – in the middle of vibrant Paris – a silent world of its own.

“It’s obvious that somebody has loved somebody. The most touching mausoleums are the ones where you actually can see that there was love between some people – someone who is dead, somebody that’s alive. But at a certain point, it is left there. Maybe because the person who loved died. Or fell in love with somebody else.”

“It made me realise that maybe I should just do the things I want to do in life. And maybe it is also an awkward worry – this worry of not being eternal. Why is it so hard for us to grasp the fact that we don’t live forever, that it has an end? Maybe it is causing us a lot of trouble while we live that we care so much about ourselves for when we are not alive.”

During the project I lost my father in September 2022 and little brother to suicide a month later.