There has always been a surprising amount of life in Green-Wood Cemetery, the sprawling national landmark just southwest of Prospect Park. The burial ground took the wraps off a new public art exhibit Wednesday morning, one that isn’t afraid to lean into the idea of loss at a singularly bewildering moment in time.
“After the End,” a site-specific installation in Green-Wood’s historic chapel, prompts visitors with a single, deceptively tricky question: Describe your loss. Upon entering the exhibit, viewers are invited to share their personal experience with loss on a scroll and place it on an illuminated altar. The altar stretches across the chapel, forming an evolving field of light. Selected reflections will be projected onto the chapel’s walls, and guests are welcome to sit in the apse and contemplate the immersive work.
What would you write?
“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,” Harry Weil, Green-Wood’s director of public programs and curator of the installation, tells GothamToGo. “This installation provides an opportunity to reflect, to learn, and to engage with one another.”
Longtime collaborators Candy Chang and James A. Reeves created the installation as a public ritual and opportunity for collective reflection.
“‘After the End’ is a public installation dedicated to contemplating 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” write the artists on their website.
Chang and Reeves have spent over a decade installing participatory art pieces that prompt conversations about refuge in the modern world. In 2018, the pair opened “A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful”—an exhibition in the Rubin Museum which invited visitors to anonymously write their anxieties and hopes on vellum cards, and then pin them to a wall. Over the course of a year, 50,000 individual reflections were displayed in the space.
“After the End” is free to attend and on view through November 10. The chapel is open every day between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. On September 30 at 6:30 p.m., the artists will hold a public discussion about the installation.