This is very intriguing and awesome, in a morose kind of way, given the kind of work the man does for a living. He makes coffins, but “fantasy coffins” as they’re called. And what I find awesome about this is just how fantastical his creations are. They are works of art, even though dead bodies are buried in them, and they are, in turn, buried underneath earth; and he’s seeking recognition for his artistry.
A work that’s in development, titled Paa Joe: Dead Not Buried, the feature production from director Benjamin Wigley, tells the story of a pioneer in the Ghanaian “fantasy coffin” trade, who seeks international success in the contemporary art world in order to save his livelihood as a coffin maker.
The Artdocs production was 1 of 15 projects selected for the Documentary Campus Masterschool 2012, which is a feature development scheme where projects are workshopped via a series of masterclasses in Munich, Bucharest and the UK, culminating in a final pitch in front of 50+ commissioners from all of over the world, at the Leipzig film festival.
And as the title of this post states, it was also one of 36 features just announced as selected for the Creative England Development Fund.
So it’s very well on its way to being fully realized.
It reminded me of something I read a while ago about the Ga tribe in coastal Ghana, where funerals are a time of mourning, but also of celebration. The Ga people believe that when their loved ones die, they move on into another life, and the Ga make sure they do so in style.
They honor their dead with brightly colored coffins that celebrate the way they lived. The coffins are designed to represent an aspect of the dead person’s life – such as a car if they were a driver, a fish if their livelihood was the sea, or a sewing machine for a seamstress.
They might also symbolize a vice, such as a bottle of beer or a cigarette.
When I die, just toss me in a coffin that’s shaped like a laptop then!
Watch a preview of Paa Joe: Dead Not Buried below, and then check out some photos of “fantasy coffins.”