NXT creatives


Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Warszawie / Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw

NURN biodegradable urns with a new kind of burial ceremony at the sea

Joanna Jurgas' piece is a multifaceted project responding to a real social need. In the face of increasing secularisation of the society, Nurn has proposed a new burial rite which not only satisfies the need for a secular farewell to loved ones but also refers to old Slavic beliefs which makes it a part of the New Age. Joanna Jurgas' proposal is also very interesting in its ideological layer. The rite of resting the cremated body in the sea is a return to the water or the original matter from which all life emerged. Humans dissolving in nature penetrates the ecosystem, becoming united with it. This is how the author emphasised the cyclical nature of natural life processes each of us is subjected to.

Another value of the work is the process of the urn creation. The artist conducted very interesting and inspiring formal studies of organic objects such as shells, stones, plants and the human body which led to the final form of Nurn. Burial at sea is a response to the growing problem of exploitation of the cemeteries (especially municipal ones). In addition, Nurn is biodegradable, created using a brand new unique technology. It becomes a metaphor for the return of the human body to nature.

Artist Statement

The project responds to the growing need for burial, not related to any existing funeral ceremony but in accordance with Polish law. More and more people lead a nomadic lifestyle without attachment to the place and the earth, so thus the traditional forms of farewell have become archaic. The project raises the problem of ecology without contributing to the further exploitation of existing necropolis: it also allows for proper burial as part of the funeral allowance. For the purpose of the project, new technology and material for the production urn was developed. The production process is simple and environmentally friendly, allowing for cooperation with local craftsmen or socially excluded people. The project itself involves the utmost respect for human ashes, as well as relating to local traditions and beliefs without prejudices against the existing ethics and social norms. 

In the old Slavic culture, they believed that the NYJA/NIJA/NYA was a goddess of the underground world, the patroness of reincarnation who promising revival. The deity name derives from the verb ‘nyti' meaning disappearance and dying. From the word ‘NYJA’ the N letter was taken combining it with the abbreviated word  ‘urn’ to obtain the noun ‘NURN’.