During the exhibition of my installation in the Nieuwe Kerk, a visitor points to one of the church windows. Years ago now - no one seems to know for how long exactly - a bat got stuck and died half way up one of the windows of the church. Too high to ever reach without machines. Their body must be mummified now. Looking at the bat, our conversation steers towards crucifixion. Even though this protestant church we are standing in does not have such images on the wall, the bat’s body in the window starts resonating with Christ’s body on the cross. Christ’s body brings to mind his physical suffering, reminding us that God was wounded in the flesh. But what does this dead bat body in the window signify?

In her 2011 book Wild Dog Dreaming Deborah Bird Rose writes about dead animal bodies on display. She develops thoughts from the dead dingo bodies she encountered during her research in Australia, that can help thinking about this dead bat body in the Nieuwe Kerk.

The dingo bodies she writes about are hung intentionally over fences, in trees, on porches. “Doggers are said to display dead dogs in order to show that they are doing their work well.” They see them as a problem that needs to be dealt with. They reinstate a boundary and kill everything that tries to cross it. In this sense, the dead dingo bodies function as trophies that tell us something about the ‘winners’ of these bodies. Rose writes: “They give us ourselves as we are when we go out to torture and kill, and are proud of our work.”

Dead bodies on display are power on display. They show who has power over a species boundary and who has not. They show power over who lives and who dies.

In the Nieuwe Kerk it is not clear who is to blame for the display of this bat’s death. It is a showcase of human power, of course. Because humans had the power to build this church and humans have the power to remove this dead body on display but choose not to. This display, however, is more ambiguous than the dead bodies Rose writes about. This bat’s death is an indirect consequence of human behavior. No one wanted this death, no one killed it on purpose. But in that sense, it is testament to a larger scale of dying that we are all implicated in.

Dead bodies on display double the suffering. The first suffering - the harm done to the victim - is, in the case of this bat in the Nieuwe Kerk, an accident or an indirect consequence.  Unlike Rose’s dingo bodies there was no active human violence that killed the bat up in the window. The second suffering - the refusal of a relationship that results from leaving the body on display - is less neutral. It is suffering inflicted by indifference. No one has been affected enough to care for this body. It has been left to mummify. It has been left to hang and it keeps haunting. The dead body is subtracted form the world of the living, prevented from fully dying, from returning death to life again. 

Rose uses the terms ‘death work’ and ‘death worlds’ to point to worlds that undo living connection. She found the terms in scholarship around the death world of the Holocaust. This type of death is man-made, not the natural type of death that is necessary for life. It’s a destructive force, close to annihilation. “This form of death arises out of a will-to-destruction that seems to be confined to humans.” p.82. It is a term applicable to all instances of genocide, but also to contemporary forms of biocide and anthropogenic extinctions. These deaths are not necessary and do not complete life, they form a negation of the relationships between life and death.

And there is more: in unmaking this gifted world, death work unmakes time, and totalizes its annihilating grasp on life’s future and diversity. And more: the future complex richness of life—our potential gift to the future—is being eradicated.

Not only these specific lives are destroyed, also the possibility of the new, the swirling unknown of new life, is terminated. Complexity and diversity are reduced, life is radically simplified. It’s like death keeps expanding. Rose connects her descriptions of death worlds with the book of Job and his suffering and specifically Elie Weisel’s interpretation of Job.

When we write “deaths worlds undo worlds of living connection” we should return to the picture of ecological disentanglement.

Indeed a death world becomes visible here, if we bring to mind the undoing of species connections that led to the collective death of pond bats in Berlikum. This picture was taken somewhere around the end of the ’60. The use of DDT and other pesticides in the agricultural sector led to an enormous decline in insect populations. Because insects are the main food source for bats (and birds for that matter) the consequences were devastating. Rachel Carson’s famous book *Silent Spring* deals with this death world in American context. Here in The Netherlands it is estimated that by the ’60 about 10 percent of the population of bats at the beginning of the century was left.
In my interviews several Take into account that bats, unlike their image of , reproduce very slowly. The recovery of the population since the ’70’s and the 90’s, when they became a protected species in The Netherlands, hence is relative. The undoing of a pesticide like DDT is so persistent that even nowadays it is still found in birds like Grutto’s. [Al jaren verboden insectenverdelger nog steeds gevonden in grutto’s | NOS](https://nos.nl/artikel/2378864-al-jaren-verboden-insectenverdelger-nog-steeds-gevonden-in-grutto-s)

So, death worlds affect humans, other animals, ecosystems, and God is involved too. Rose writes: *But in the current cascade of extinctions that has become the sixth great extinction event on Earth, God’s future is being killed. Today the question is not “Was this you?”but the even more unbearable question: “Will you be able to keep coming forth?” 

No theodicee necessary, clearly it was us. But who is this us? European-American-white-men-with-power, Anthropos of the Anthropocene?