Spontaneous Shrines

"We who build shrines and construct public altars or parade with photographs of the deceased will not allow you to write off victims as regrettable statistics…They are, I believe, the voice of the people." –Jack Santino

Washed away by the rain – street chalking and ephemeral memorials, Part 1

A colleague of mine from Columbia University’s Narrative Medicine program, Gillian Graham, sent me the following photos earlier this year:

 

–and a close-up of the chalking–

 

 

She also sent this explanation:

“So this popped up on the corner of 173rd/Haven Ave in NYC last week. I saw it in progress; I saw a woman find out for the first time that this woman had died through this shrine (she grew up with her), and then the next day it was washed out by a rainstorm.”

This New York City shrine is the perfect example of an ephemeral memorial.  I sometimes use the terms makeshift memorial/ephemeral memorial/spontaneous shrine/roadside memorial interchangeably, but in this case, I believe ephemeral memorial is the most appropriate due to the absolute ephemerality of the shrine.  Chalk, by nature, does not last on pavement for very long.  I grew up in the hot and dry suburbs, so as a child, a chalked hopscotch pattern could last for quite a long time (maybe two weeks).  In a place like New York City where there is extreme foot traffic and frequent heavy thunderstorms, anything that is chalked will probably not last more than about one or two days– if even that long.

A shrine like this makes me think of burning offerings for the dead.  You burn them and send them off away from the living to the dead.  A shrine that is made with the understanding that it will soon be gone is delicate yet powerful.  It has intense meaning for the fleeting moments that it exists and then it is washed away.  Like the person to whom it is dedicated, the shrine becomes a memory.

Tomorrow I’ll post about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire memorial project CHALK…stay tuned…

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

RAD RELIGION

Charting the borderlands between religion and pop culture

Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols

Exploring the meaning of cemetery symbols and other graveyard mysteries. For genealogy sleuths, taphophiles and goth kids.

Miss Tanya Jean

Just a girl and her superlative words.

The Object Ethnography Project

Creative Experiments in Critical Practice: Art, Anthropology, and Economy

PAMYUA

blog

Rousing Departures

'Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.' – Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness, 1930.

The Mouth of The Kenai

The Mouth of The Kenai

Looking at the West

Photographs by Andrew McAllister

Religion, Secularism, & Civil Societies

in the Netherlands, Germany, and the United States

The Lonely Walkers Blog

Challenging the idea of distance

Psychobabble

I eat cheese, I run from zombies, and I do therapy

quantumnight

Just another WordPress.com site

Death Be Not Proud

American deathways exlored

Animitas, Grutas, or Roadside Shrines

A Site Celebrating The Tragic Beauty Of Latin America's Highway Monuments

Next Gen Memorials

Ideas for planning a memorial or celebration of life

War Memorials Archive Blog

Features and news about war memorials in the UK

Spontaneous Shrines

"We who build shrines and construct public altars or parade with photographs of the deceased will not allow you to write off victims as regrettable statistics...They are, I believe, the voice of the people." --Jack Santino

KitschEncounters...

...of the one of a kind

%d bloggers like this: