The Grieving Wall
Grieving is personal. We have all different ways to deal with our loss and different memories shared with the deceased. However, our society has develop the culture of public grieving in many different forms and for different reasons. Take cemetery in Christianity, or war memorial grounds as the most common examples. Public grieving does not only help individuals find some comfort in learning that they are many others in the same shoes, but also enables society to show compassion to each other. The Grieving Wall ritualizes the way we grieve and invite community members and passerby in the East Village area on March 19th, 2016. First, visitors received a package of message cards and ‘The Grieving Wall’ sticker. They were asked to express their feelings or messages to their lost loved ones. They walked into the garden and select one of the two walls to put up their message cards. Finally, they are encouraged to read people’s messages that are on the walls and enjoy the collective art work they helped create.
The grieving wall uses typology of putting written words up on the wall that exists in many cultures. One of the most common examples is the O-mikuji wall in Japanese temples. The o-mikuji predicts the person's chances of his or her hopes coming true, of finding a good match, or generally matters of health, fortune, life, etc. The most contemporary one is Facebook's walls, which is a very common platform for expressing grief and sympathy when someone has passed away. The reason Khunprasert is interested in this form of expression is because there is a paradox between privacy and publicity. She went out to test her first prototype on the street in the East Village neighborhood. The designer learned that the engagement of the experience is strong but there os still a lack of attraction. Khunprasert really admire the works of artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso, Crementerio-jardin vertical (Cemetery-Vertical Garden), 1992. Artificial flowers are grouped on top of the delicately drawn shapes on the wall that recall the funeral niches of a mausoleum. The work suggests the age-old practice of placing flowers on the burial grounds of the departed loved ones at the same time that it evoke a garden, a traditional symbol of life and rebirth.
East Village is a mixture of peacefulness of those in the old community who have been living there for generations and the young energy of the new residents who continue to respect the serenity of the neighborhood. Khunprasert went location scouting in this particular area and received a confirmation in hosting the event at the 6BC Botanical Garden. After exploring the beautiful and serene garden, she concluded that the design of the wall should compliment the location. The structure should standout, but be subtle in execution by choice of materials. The wall will be immersive to the garden. Smaller writing station units will be placed to encourage spectators and participants to walk around and select their favorite spot or aprivate spot. he act of walking from the writing station to the walls is also part of the ritual, enabling the users to have a moment of silence, meditating, or thinking of lost loved ones. The message paper should be simple and easy to fabricate. Since they are three dimensional or tactile, users should also be able to easily assemble the unit and put it up on the wall. Playing with the wind and the shadows, transparent and reflective materials should be considered ,as well as materials that are light and flowing.
While one of the most common feedbacks I received from visitors was that they appreciated the opportunity to be able to express their grief in the peaceful context of the garden. Many people were interested in the idea behind the event and some shared their personal stories. There were about fifty participants that day, and the most important thing was that visitors carefully articulating their grief in writing, gracefully walking into the garden, and deliberately interlocking their message in place. There were tears of sorrow and happiness. One of the most rewarding feedbacks was that this event represented a gift to the community and visitors. After the event, the.grieving.wall Instagram is the platform where the wall continue it’s existence on the virtual world. Using digital platform as way to continue on the ritual of externalizing grief, creates beauty through words and builds community.