Dead Cities / Cities of the Dead
Observatory (543 Union St., Brooklyn)
Tonight, author Colin Dickey will conjoin a history of the necropolis with a history of ghost towns and abandoned urban landscapes. The necropolis has always been a vital feature of the city, from its earliest incarnations to today. The dead body has long been regarded as both sacred and polluting, so what does a community do with thousands of bodies? From medieval chapels literally bursting with the bones of the dead to the sanitized splendor of the modern funeral industry, how we treat the dead reveal much about how we view the living. How we treat dead cities–from California ghost towns to Ukraine’s Pripyat, just outside of Chernobyl–begs a different question: what do we abandon, and why? What does all this urban ruin say about our future? Colin Dickey will intertwine these two forms of urban death to see what it all adds up to.