Saving ghosts -> The Sin-eater
a virtual memorial (Part I)
For a long period of time I have been wanting to realise an interactive art memorial project for people who died by means that are considered taboo — drug overdose, suicide, murdered (when participating in actions related to drugs), etc. — you get the picture. Those instances where shame and shock are experienced by those who were left behind, the people who loved them & perhaps even at times — might even have felt relief resulting perhaps with guilt (for even having that thought.)
The project requires the public to participate and is a memorial.
Originally called My Hometown, then The Memory Memorial, through the last years, it became The Sin-eater.
What is a sin? or for that matter a sinner?
A sin simply is an act where someone has violated one’s own integrity, a sinner is someone who has simply missed the point.
What is a sin-eater?
A sin-eater was at one time a real occupation in some parts of England and Wales. A sin-eater travelled around the country and attended funeral rites. They would essentially receive payment to eat a piece of bread and drink water, wine or beer, and by this act assume the sins of the deceased so they could bypass any judgement. It was a ritualistic act.
One of the tasks of the sin eater is to save the dead from walking the earth as ghosts.
The last known sin-eater Richard Munslow was buried in Ratlinghope in Shropshire, England in 1906.
A little over 100 years later a virtual sin-eater is called upon to act as a salve for the wounded people left behind. To honour their deceased family members or friends — making known their feelings without shame. The act of creating a memory to add to the memorial would, in essence, feed the sin-eater.
Following is a little history of the project and its shortcomings or failures. This is the first part of a series of articles about the project. Part II will highlight the motivation and concept and the third part will be its own series — it will be the projects so the memorial can begin.
The Sin-eater project came out of an idea based on an original project idea entitled My Hometown.”The idea had been in my mind for a long period of time and started with this short video created in 2008 and an attempt to get funding from the Franklin Furnace Fund in early 2009 without success. It’s gone through a long path and has still not been realised — YET. It comes in fits and starts.
After the rejection, I evolved the project further and wrote another proposal, this time in Romanian and in September 2009 and it was now called Monumenului Memorie or The Monument of Memory. That attempt for time and space to work on it was rejected. So it was put aside and I continued to work on some commercial web development and design projects to survive (not having a following and collectors of my work at that time, that is the reality). It wasn’t until early 2015 when it got resurrected again and this time with a website.
The website was up for one year, there was interest in the project — strangers tweeted to me and wrote to me but no real participation. I needed that first person to submit their project. One person actually did a project but didn’t share it. When the domain expired after one year, with all the hours invested with the designing a site, publishing articles to the site, the 1st projects, paying for hosting and for a domain name it was placed on hold again.
So now I’m starting to put the idea out there again with the publication of this article and I’ve decided to hold off on an official site for now and try another approach — perhaps a facebook page where people could upload their participatory works and this time, instead will see if interest can be stirred up.
Stay tuned for Part II and please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and feelings.
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About The Author
Amy Adams is a fine artist (MFA Painting — University of Art & Design Cluj-Napoca [Academia de Arte Vizuale Ion Andreescu]) living and working out of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She is passionate about the visual arts and music.