Creative Time has commissioned French artist Sophie Calle for an ambitious, twenty-five-year-long project that will take place at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery, the title of the artist’s work, will consist of a hollow grave connected to an above-ground obelisk, made of marble and designed by Calle. On the obelisk will be a small slot where visitors may transcribe confessions or secrets on a piece of paper and deposit them into the structure, slowly filling the grave. Calle will return to the cemetery throughout the next twenty-five years, each time the grave is full, to exhume its contents and destroy them in a ritualistic bonfire.
The project will debut during a two-day-long event, scheduled for April 29 and 30. The artist will be at the event for both days, from 12:00 until 5:00 PM. Guests coming to the opening are invited to explore the cemetery’s numerous monuments. Maps of the grounds, designed specifically around Calle’s work, will be available to the public, free of charge. There will also be free, guided walking tours.
The artist has issued special instructions about the project, which may be read below.
INSTRUCTIONS FROM SOPHIE CALLE
I was in love with him, but he had decided to leave me. To soften the break-up, he suggested a farewell trip of one week in Seville. I liked the idea though it seemed painful. So I accepted and we went. On the last day, seeing my tears, H. told me a secret. It was a terrible secret, which had poisoned his life. And he was confiding it to me. Only to me. At the very moment he was depriving me of his love, this man offered me, through his confession, the ultimate proof of our intimacy.
H.’s secret remained untold, and so will the ones you’ll share with me on April 29 and 30. I’ll be waiting to receive your secrets near a tombstone dedicated to them on Bay Grove Hill, in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.
I’ll listen to you and jot down your secret before placing it in an envelope. Or, you’ll write down your story beforehand, read it to me, and then seal the envelope yourself.
I won’t take any pictures.
I won’t know your name.
I might keep a memory of your story, but it will remain anonymous.
You’ll slide your secret through the slot at the base of the tombstone.
If you know me and prefer to keep your story from me, or if you prefer to confide directly in the grave, then there’s no need to visit me.
This cemetery plot has been granted to me “in perpetuity,” which means the project will continue for [twenty-five] years.
Every few years, when the grave fills up with secrets, we’ll organize a ceremony to burn those remnants that managed to survive the elements and the passage of time.
A simple request: to ensure that the day is pleasant and poetic, I would be grateful if we could forgo selfies, autographs or any other requests not strictly concerning your secret.