Creation of Images of Death Through Picture Books

Life and death are part of the existence, but commonly aren’t present in the discourses between adults and children. Since the Industrial Revolution, people avoid talking about death, specially with the youngest as an attempt to protect and to form a sensation of comfort and security, as said by Sigmund Freud (apud [1]). An example of that avoidance of death is watched in the children’s books and videogames, where the “hero” never dies or, if he/she dies, there is always a way to come back to life. Philippe Ariès [2] noticed that in our Ocidental world we have two attitudes regarding death – the exploitation of the cult of the dead and the attempt to hide the death in everyday. Edgar Morin talks about “trauma of death” [3] and Jean Baudrillard about the willingness “to hygiene” death [4]. It seams that the discourses about death is always a “private matter”.
The project entitled “Creation of Images of Death Through Picture Books”, as one of the artistic projects under the CREARTE (Creative School Partnerships with Visual Artists) – a project co-funded with support from the European Commission – was implemented in the Oporto Music Conservatory (in Portugal), between April 11 and May 10 in 2016, with the will of beginning to talk about death with children and using literature and art as a support for this task. The artistic and conceptual exploration of the idea of death through picture books is also part of a PhD research of the artist involved.
The artist and researcher of the project observed that in this 21st century it is evident a huge increase of the creation and publication of picture books dedicated to children and speaking about the death. Understanding that a book is a mean to reach all the possible and imaginary themes, it was pretended by the artist-researcher to use it to create moments of observation, reading, creation and questioning related with art and the children’s experiences. The teacher’s and artist’s role was of children’s orientation, combining the experiences (pedagogical and artistic) and providing new work spaces for creativity, reading and art.
Two classes – 1st and 3rd grades – of the Oporto Music Conservatory were chosen by the artist to develop artistic projects related with the death concept. It was supposed, with the project, to explore the construction or setting of the death ideas and understanding through the picture books, knowing that, as said before, the theme is (normally) quite difficult to talk about and that the usual talking about it is the absence of talking.

Event Title European Conference on Educational Research - ECER2017
Comunication Title Creation of Images of Death Through Picture Books
Date 22 of August of 2017