Decorating for the Afterlife: The Modern American Mausoleum


"The peculiar mix of modernism and death reflects the things most kitsch, troubling, and beautiful about our modern culture."

In the 1950s, a fashion for interring the deceased in luxurious marble mausoleums (as opposed to burial plots) took hold -- as far as fashions for the dead can take hold, we mean. After taking a tour of one such facility, Chicago-based photographer John Faier was hooked, and spent six years photographing mausoleums from the time period all over the country. We spotted his resultant photo series, Queen of Heaven, over at Raw File. The mausoleums have an ominous, almost surreal feeling, like the chapel in the Overlook Hotel as photographed by David Lynch, both lavish and somehow hollow-feeling. "Bright colors, matching upholstery, matching lamp shades -- the architecture reminds us more of a cocktail lounger or hotel, not of a mausoleum," Faier muses. "The peculiar mix of modernism and death reflects the things most kitsch, troubling, and beautiful about our modern culture." Even more peculiar? Over six years of shooting, he says, he never ran into a mourner.

Photos courtesy of John Faier

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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Emily Temple is an editor at Flavorpill.

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