Sky Burial

Video Installation, 2020 Dimensions variable

Performance at La Seine Musicale with Insula Orchestra conducted by Laurence Equilbey, 15th February 2023

Sky Burial is a meditation on death, ritual, humankind and nature, set to a live performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem.

“At the time of conception COVID-19 was unheard of, and it was only in the final stages of producing the film that the parallels between what was happening in the real world and what I was constructing in the editing suite had certain resonances. 

However, I don’t believe these events diminish the pertinence of the project, contrarily I think the issue of our uneasy relationship with the natural world has been pushed to the forefront by these harrowing developments. The rapid spread of the disease exacerbated by relentless international travel has emphasised the pitfalls of fast-paced modern life. That one of the prices paid for this accelerated global migration has become a rigorously policed policy of isolation gives us all pause for real reflection”. 


“While the act of vultures feasting on human flesh appears barbaric, it is not unnatural. I would argue that attuning ourselves more sensitively to the natural world and not becoming blinded by the civilised prisons we have built for ourselves is imperative for our psychological and physical survival. 

My intention for Faure’s Requiem is to present a large video projection that echoes the themes evoked in the music and resonates with broader issues and concerns in the contemporary world”. 

“I decided to create an ambiguous environment with a dystopian feel in which existing death rites have been placed in uncommon settings.

My starting point was ‘sky burials’, a practice carried out in countries such as Tibet; where the ground is too hard to dig a grave and the altitude too high for trees to grow and burn on a pyre, leading people to use what resources they have; native vultures, in the ‘burial’ of their dead”.

“I located the film in an inner city tower block, suggesting that some form of catastrophe had taken place, preventing normal burial procedures from taking place. My decision to create an ominous atmosphere was an attempt to suggest that human relationships with nature were not altogether harmonious and that sublime meditations on death and dying in the form of a Requiem had become difficult for dealing with the inconvenience of death in a highly mechanical, post industrial landscape.”

Sky Burial was originally commissioned by Teodor Currentzis and Pont Neuf.

Sky Burial could not have been made without the patience and fortitude of Oleg Voronko who built the tower and co-ordinated the virtual camera movements.

All ‘real’ world filming by Max Tailor.

Past performances.

Festspielhaus, Baden Baden, Germany. Music Aeterna. 2021

De Singel, Antwerp, Holland. Brussels Philharmonic. 2021

Zaryadye Concert Hall, Moscow, Russia. Music Aeterna. 2022

La Seine Musical, Paris, France. Insula Orchestra. 2023

Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong, China. Insula Orchestra. 2023

MONA, Hobart, Tasmania. Tasmanian SO /Eivind Aadland. 2023

Kilden Performing Arts Centre, Kristiansand, Norway.  Kristinsand SO /Eivind Aadland. 2023

Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie – Théâtre des Arts, France/Insula Orchestra. 2023

Barbican Centre, London, UK/Insula Orchestra. 2023