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LFQ3.1 – Lee, Infinity Burial Project

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Inside these capsules is a powdery, odorous, mixture called the “Decompiculture Kit,” a combination of biological elements that accelerates the breakdown of skin, muscle, and bone. The substance is part of the Infinity Burial Project, a multi-pronged venture by artist Jae Rhim Lee that aims to create an ecologically responsible system for dealing with death. At the center of the project is the cultivation of the Infinity Mushroom, a fungus whose purpose is to turn pollutant-laden bodies into nutrient-rich compost. To make the Infinity Mushroom, Lee selectively breeds edible mushroom varieties, choosing the ones that prove most adept at eating human tissue and excrement—her own hair, blood, sweat, urine, and bone. Once developed, the Infinity Mushroom spores will be embedded in multiple postmortem products including the Mushroom Death Suit, a garment that will speed the decomposition of cadavers while cleansing them of the 219 toxins they accumulate during life. The project presents an alternative to cremation, which releases pollutants into the air, and traditional burial, which applies harmful preservatives to corpses before resting them in root systems. Beyond its potential ecological impact, the Infinity Burial Project works to counter deeply held cultural convictions, among them the compulsion to deny death even after it has occurred. By promoting the growth of decomposing organisms, the project also works to cultivate a radical acceptance of mortality. The Decompiculture capsules are included in Landfill Quarterly Issue 3: Species Being.