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Constellations: Exploring the family experience of death & dying


Fri, Jan 18, 2019 — Sun, Jan 27, 2019





Location Accessible

Artscape Young Place, 2nd floor

180 Shaw Street



Reception: Thu, Jan 17, 6-9pm

Daily Hours


8:00 am

9:00 pm


8:00 am

9:00 pm


8:00 am

9:00 pm


8:00 am

9:00 pm


8:00 am

9:00 pm


8:00 am

9:00 pm


8:00 am

9:00 pm


Developed as an exploration of personal experience with end-of-life, ‘Constellations: Exploring the family experience of death & dying’ sets out to explore how families — however we choose to define family — experience the dying and death of someone we love. Through a series of interactive questions, the installation explores how we relate to one another when someone we love is dying? What helps us cope? What makes the experience more difficult? How do we experience grief as individuals and as a family unit? What is unique in how we each experience loss and where might there be similarities in this most human experience?

‘Constellations’ is a participatory installation that invites people to make a series of selections based on their experience with the death of someone in their social circle. Prompts aim to capture the experience individuals have, being a family member or close friend to a person dying: their relationship to the person dying, others within their network during the end of life period, supportive influences, compromising influences, the level of preparedness the individual and family felt as they moved into the end of life and after death.

People are invited to connect their responses through a single thread, resulting in a tactile snapshot (or map) of their experience. The analog format generates live-data throughout the Festival, culminating in a collection of contributions, revealing patterns of commonalities and anomalies about how end-of-life is shared among family members. People are invited to attach a written anecdote to their thread, providing context to the story that emerges from their responses. ‘Constellations’ provides a discreet way of sharing deeply personal experiences that can otherwise be difficult to share in a society that does not always want to talk about death.

What emerges is a tactile expression of the universal human experience of end-of-life.

Series Description

We are all going to die, so why not talk about it? ‘Dying.’ an event series, explores death through the lens of design and art, running during the DesignTO Festival.

‘Dying.’ is in fact about living, living with the human experience of dying; What aren’t we talking about? What matters at end-of-life? Bringing together perspectives from families, caregivers, clinicians, and research to spark public conversation through community creation and interactive experiences. The series invites us to think about our relationship with death and dying as an individual, a member of a family, social network and as a human being in society. Let’s get comfortable with the uncomfortable and start talking about what truly matters.

‘Dying.’ presented by Taboo Health and OCAD University’s Design Studio, is taking place at four exhibits across three locations including public talks and hands on activities in Toronto, January 18-27, 2019.

‘Dying.’ Series 
– Before I Die… – click here
– Constellations: Exploring the family experience of death & dying – click here
– Death and Dying Discussions – click here
– DIYing Free – click here
– Ghost Stories – click here
– Time Moving – Exhibition – click here
– Time Moving – Workshop – click here
– Until the Last Breath – click here

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Karen Oikonen, Kate Wilkes