If you live in Melbourne, you might have passed a billboard with artist Georgia Banks holding a single red rose, an excitedly nervous facial expression, set against a pastel pink sunset with a palm trees and a sandy beach. To her left reads, “Georgia Banks in Remains To Be Seen.” She looks every bit The Bachelor contestant. And while this billboard is advertising a competition, this one isn’t about love: it’s about death. Banks is offering one lucky winner complete control over her funeral and remains.
Based on previous works looking at the absurdity of application processes for appearing on reality television, Banks was curious about the desire to be on these shows, despite their known immorality. “It’s just a really effective way to not be forgotten and not to die,” says Banks. She explains how now with social media, one doesn’t die a social death anymore: all you need is a Facebook profile to be alive forever.
From here Banks “came up with this concept to turn my death into a way to avoid dying,” and has created an online application process for one person to control the method of her body’s disposal, the obituary, and every detail of her funeral and final resting place. “Applications will be open for the rest of my life, and the winner will be announced the day I die,” she confirms. The only stipulation is that Banks can use the applications, which are based on reality television applications, as creative material.
By turning her death into art, Banks agrees she’s “spectacularising death to such a degree that it’s not even about dying anymore.” Then what is it about? “Not dying.” She laughs. “It’s about the lengths we go to to become public property, and what we’re willing to do to be public and have proximity to being known.”
This article was originally published in the May/June 2021 issue of Art Guide Australia.