It is no secret that green burials and environmental consciousness have been all the talk the past few years. Consumers have been searching for alternatives to traditional burials and even cremations. There are green burial tehcniques, new cremation technologies and processes that allow you to leave this world with as little a footprint as possible. The question remains: how far are people willing to take this trend? The Infinity Mushroom Suit by Jae Rhim Lee might not exactly be your answer to that question.
Order of the Good Death member Jae Rhim Lee and former financial services executive Mike Ma recently founded a new company called Coeio (pronounced: ko-e-oh). Weird name aside (we can totally relate), Coeio was started to offer the public Infinity Burial products such as the suit. Through their website you can actually buy a functioning mushroom suit today and be buried in a Natural Burial Cemetery in North America.
The Infinity Burial Suit is well, a mushroom suit. It is a full body costume that is embroidered with thread infused with mushroom spores. The threading itself is supposed to resemble the internal growth of mushrooms. Left on it's own, the mushroom suit remains inactive. Once you die however, this is where the magic begins. An Alternative Embalming Fluid will be rubbed over your body and a Decompiculture(another project by Lee) makeup applied to your face. The combination of these two products activates the Body Suit and mushroom spores will begin to grow, slowly. Soon enough, your body will decompose and feed the mushroom and everything blends together as you begin your return to nature. The Infinity Burial Suit promises to:
- Uses no harsh chemicals, preservatives, or processing
- Purifies the body of 200+ toxins, so they don’t seep into the ground
- Uses no fossil fuels or precious resources
- Enables the body to cultivate the soil to promote cycle of life
"the Suit makes us functional after death"
This conceptual idea is greater than the burial suit itself. What artist Jae Rhim Lee is really doing is exploring the boundaries of death and it's societal, cultural and physical implications. The Infinity Burial Suit is about exploring our options after we die as well as bringing to light the realities of death in a culture that tends to keep these matters private. Our bodies are made of organic matter that will decompose and disappear. The mushrooms in her Suit feed on the toxins and chemicals our bodies release after we die. You could almost say that the Suit makes us functional after death. In fact, if this idea interests you at all, the Infinity Burial Suit project is seeking volunteers!
Jae Rhim Lee is a visual artist who was in residence at the MAK Center in Los Angeles while working on this project. Lee has long been interested with the functioning of the body and how sleep, urination and eating can all be disrupted and adapted. The Infinity Burial project is funded by the Creative Capital Foundation, the Universitat der Kunste Berlin as well as the MAK Center for Art in Los Angeles.