This September, The Green-Wood Cemetery will present After the End, a participatory art installation that provides visitors with an opportunity to publicly share about their personal losses. Created by artists Candy Chang and James A. Reeves, the installation will be located inside Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel beginning on Wednesday, September 15th.
Describe your loss. This simple prompt will be asked of each visitor to After the End, a new site-specific installation in Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel. Influenced in equal parts by religious ceremonies and science fiction, Chang and Reeves have created a public ritual to contemplate loss in all forms: the loss of loved ones, relationships, health, and worlds we once knew—as well as the practices that have helped us endure. Visitors are invited to anonymously share their experience on a scroll and place it upon an illuminated altar. Each response becomes a devotional candle, and together they form an evolving field of light. Select responses will be projected throughout the chapel, and visitors can sit in the apse to contemplate the experiences of others as well as their own.
“Following eighteen months of anxiety, grief, and uncertainty, After the End opens at a significant moment as our City begins to heal. All New Yorkers have experienced some form of loss, but there aren’t spaces to publicly share that anguish,” said Harry Weil, Green-Wood’s Director of Public Programs and curator of the installation. “This installation provides an opportunity to reflect, to learn, and to engage with one another.”
For over a decade, Chang and Reeves have collaborated on public rituals to contemplate the human condition. Their most recent installations have been exhibited at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City and the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. Chang is best known for creating Before I Die, a participatory installation in over 5,000 cities that invites people to share their personal aspirations in public. Inspired by the devotional images of religion, the ancient I Ching, and cyberpunk visions, Chang and Reeves create public works that facilitate conversations about reckoning with an increasingly alienating world.
“After losing my parents, I didn’t have any shared traditions to ground me,” Reeves said. “Whenever I visit a church, temple, or cemetery, I often find myself craving some gesture or ceremony that might provide a moment of connection and coherence. And this sense of need inspired our project.”
Adds Chang, “I’m inspired by the mashup of many beliefs in most temples in Taiwan. We wanted to inject this sublime, Gothic-style chapel with a modern ritual that speaks to the pains of our age. It’s an experiment in emotional infrastructure, a public space to commune and learn more from one another about the most difficult experiences in our lives.”
The artists also will host a free, public talk about the installation on Thursday, September 30th, from 6:30-8:30pm. Attendees will be able to experience the installation—and contribute their own messages—before and after the discussion.
After the End will open on September 15th and be on view through November 10, 2021 from 10am to 4:30pm daily. Entry is free, though a donation to Green-Wood Historic Fund would be greatly appreciated.
Green-Wood Cemetery is located at 25th Street/Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn – walk five-minutes from the Main Entrance Arch to the Historic Chapel to view the installation.
After the End is made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
About Green-Wood. Established in 1838, The Green-Wood Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark, is recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries. As the permanent residence of over 570,000 individuals, Green-Wood’s magnificent grounds, grand architecture, and world-class statuary have made it a destination for half a million visitors annually, including national and international tourists, New Yorkers, and Brooklynites. At the same time, Green-Wood is also an outdoor museum, an arboretum, and a repository of history. Throughout the year, it offers innovative programs in arts and culture, nature and the environment, education, workforce development, restoration, and research. For more information, please visit www.green-wood.com.