The Three Living and the Three Dead Pocket Zine

The Three Living and the Three Dead Pocket Zine

What would you do if you saw a mirror image of yourself, dead and decaying, stood before you with an eerie grin? Would you turn and flee? Would you reassess your life? Would you vow to become a better person?

Painted onto the walls of parish churches, illustrated into the pages of illuminated manuscripts, and told in verse through Middle Ages poetry there is a gruesome scene that appears again and again in medieval Europe – three young nobles confronted by three animated corpses, who remind the living of their inevitable fate: "as you are, we once were; as we are, so shall you be.” Some time ago, Team Hwæt! encountered this centuries-old motif in a rural church, and were stunned by its striking and irreverent image of death. As a memento mori, the Three Living and the Three Dead remains a potent and humbling invocation of mortality.

Where did such a spine-chilling scene come from, and why was it so welcome in religious spaces and prayer books? What social and political messages might it impart? And what would such an image mean for us today? Through an exclusive new essay and a collection of original art, this pocket-sized A6 mini-zine aims to delve into these questions and many more.

A6 zine, 32 pages, staple bound, printed on natural recycled paper.
Each zine is housed in a wax-sealed black presentation envelope and sent out in a biodegradable mailer.