Talking back to the shrines
There is one issue I’ve been considering quite a bit since starting this project. I’m wondering how best to contact people who have created the shrines. The last shrine I wrote about, to the person called “A,” poses a particular challenge.
The people who made the shrine left 2 pens on top of the box and taped a blank sheet of paper above it, presumably for anyone to write a note for “A.” Part of me is very hesitant to write something on the paper that is not a “in memory of…” comment. However, because the pens are an invitation to participate in creating the shrine, part of me thinks it would be the perfect opportunity to engage with the memorial in a different way.
Because I recognize the shrine as a sacred space, I do not wish to defile it by writing all over it in a non-memorializing way. However, it does present itself as a participatory shrine. I wonder if I should strike a compromise– tape my own piece of paper up near the shrine with contact information, but not actually write on the paper provided as a space to remember “A.” Another issue I’ve thought about: Does my simply taking a photograph of it use the shrine in the same way that writing a note to its creators would?
It’s tricky…and one of the challenges of getting in touch with people who build these memorials. How must a person coming in from the outside interact with these sacred spaces respectfully?