Creative Time Will Stage 25-Year Sophie Calle Project at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn

An aerial view of the Green-Wood Cemetery.COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

An aerial view of the Green-Wood Cemetery.


Spring is here again. With it we get longer days, of course, plus, in New York at least, another exciting annual development: news of the latest Creative Time commission. The next commission is typically grandiose and ambitious: a 25-year-long project involving French conceptual artist Sophie Calle, to be staged at Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery. The enticing title of the piece will be “Here Lie The Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery.”


Sophie Calle.


It begins with a two-day inaugural event at the cemetery April 29 and 30. That weekend—and for the next two decades—visitors to the Sunset Park cemetery will have the opportunity to write down their most intimate confessions on slips of paper and then send them into the earth. Details are scant, but the process involves dropping the notes into a slot in a semi-permanently installed marble obelisk designed by Calle. There will also be free guided walking tours of the cemetery during the opening weekend.

Calle, who is known for narrative-rich performances that often lean heavily on the element of chance, will be on hand at the inauguration to transcribe some secrets. And then, every few years for a quarter-century, she will return to her big marble mailbox to exhume the pile of secrets that have accrued, cremating them in a ceremonial bonfire. The first of these ceremonies will take place when the grave is full.

Green-Wood is perhaps the best-known and grandest of burial places in New York City. Among those at rest within its gates include politician Boss Tweed, Cooper Union founder Peter Cooper, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

In a statement, Creative Time artistic director Nato Thompson described the project as a “space for intimate reflection.”

“In a time of such social upheaval, delicate gestures like this gain urgency,” he added.

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