GreenGrief Ace Weekly 8/13/08

Ace Weekly August 13/08
Applicants selected to mourn for Dame Block
In April 2005, the Courier-Journal (that would be the daily
newspaper in Louisville) published a story, “Mourning
walk—Lexington artist hires an apologist for urban sprawl.” In the article, Katya Cengel wrote, “How do you go
about hiring a mourner? Do you ask friends for references,
wait for a sign from above, or place a classified advertisement
in Lexington-area newspaper Ace Weekly? If you are
Bruce Burris, you do the latter. For several weeks this year,
the artist from Lexington ran a classified that offered applicants
$100 to ‘mourn for loss of natural habitat, meditate on
the reasons for its destruction, apologize for our culture’s
behavior and offer prayers of healing.’ More than 30 people,
mostly women, applied. Some sent poems, some sent manifestos—
way over the 100 words Burris requested—and some
asked paranoid questions, like ‘Who are you working for?’”
The article went on to detail the designated mourner’s walk
out at Beaumont Circle.
Earlier this summer, Burris took out a similar classified in
Ace, reading, “Help Wanted: Mourner. GREENGRIEF The
Kentucky Mourning Project provides compensation to mourners
for grieving, praying, singing, and for giving thoughtful
consideration and sincere apologies to our earth for the
environmental and cultural devastation wrought by us humans to
it in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Mourner wanted to
grieve for loss by demolition of irreplaceable historical/cultural
and architecturally unique block in downtown Lexington
Kentucky (the Dame block), to apologize for our culture’s sad
lust for profit and to offer prayers of healing and hope.
Mourner is asked to articulate these expectations while walking
around the block for a period of one hour (noon to 1pm)
during a weekdate yet to be decided in September 2008.”
In August, three mourners were selected. Lyndsey
Fryman, Brittany Clark and Jenny O’Neill’s mourning proposals
were selected from the eighteen submitted.
(And once again, Louisville’s Courier-Journal covered it.
Diane Heilenman’s story was published August 1,
“Mourners wanted: Whole historical block to die soon.” It’s
in their online archives.)
The designated mourners’ proposals are re-printed

Brittany Clark wrote, “Mourning has taken on an entirely
new meaning for me following the announcement of the
loss of the Dame block. It engulfs utter despair and sorrow
for the city—for my friends—for myself—for generations to
come. Not only was this block historic and beautiful; it was
also the heartbeat of the city. It was a common union among
the masses of individuality. It united even the oddest of pairs.
When your hearts beat the same pulse, no other differences
matter. I will forever long for that connection, like a soul
searching for my matching pulse.” Clark has included plans
for her mourning project on her facebook page.
Jenny O’Neill wrote, “I am truly aggrieved by the callousness
of the Webb brothers and the cupidity/stupidity of
our civic leaders who have—with the exception of Jim
Gray—just gone along. I am mourning—for the loss of our
past, for the greed that drives so much of our decision making,
and for the lack of vision and concern for the generations
to come that CentrePointe reflects. I too am fascinated by the
process of mourning—both the individual and the societal.
CentrePointe is urban mountain top removal.”
Lyndsey Fryman wrote, “Everything has a history, traditions,
cultures people and even places. For this reason I have
a great interest in this project. To mourn something that has
been lost traditionally has been our societies way to cope
with death, and give memory to the deceased. These mourning
rites embedded in our culture would allow one to ceremonially
satisfy the concept of separation and bring together
the community for the support of the griever. As an artist I
have a great respect for these historic practices; particularly
for the Victorian era which incorporated an element of creation
in mourning art. I find it interesting the downtown
Lexington block which was demolished, lived through such
an era and beyond. And through its time experienced traditions
come and go, wars in and outside our country, the
beginnings and endings of lives and finally its own. Some
would say is strange to grieve something opposed to someone,
it is unheard of, why do it? For me, it is a loss of life, or
loss of a chapter of history in Lexington, or even a loss of a
block that represents the down town Lexington commercial
and entertainment community at its beginnings. Now that it
is gone, this history has no rent, it is irreplaceable and the
future of it is dead. The rubble which remains, lies as a body
of the deceased, no longer holding its eternal spirit only at
this funeral, it is the enjoyment and profit of the people in the
community. By 2010 that history will not be known by those
who visit the CentrePointe Hotel, and the cultural scene that
was once indigenous to the people of Lexington will no
longer be as it was. My intentions would be to give memory
to the block by paying tribute through mourning in the
Victorian manner. It seems fitting being the block was a witness
to the era. And during my performance I will grieve the
loss of history, but cope though constructing a memorial from
what is left of the once living block. Although my performance
would be temporal, my hope is the memory of the
remains will keep the spirit alive.” ■
The Kentucky Mourning Project events will occur on Friday
and Saturday, September 12th and 13th at the CentrePointe site.
For more information and to contact mourners: Bruce Burris