Wed, May 03|
NAMING THE LOST Memorials
NAMING THE LOST Memorials (NTLM) is a small team of artists, activists, and folklorists that has been curating memorial sites in New York City to name and remember victims of the COVID-19 pandemic since May 2020.
Time & Location
May 03, 2023, 10:00 AM – May 29, 2023, 8:00 AM
Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232, USA
About the event
NAMING THE LOST Memorial
May 3rd–29th, 2023
NAMING THE LOST Memorial Activation Ceremony
May 11th, 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232
On May 11th, we ask the public to join us for the dedication and activation of the memorial in front of Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel. Before the ceremony begins there will be opportunities to write poems and make name plates to add to the memorial. The ceremony will bring together the NTLM team, community partners and the public for a dedication and activation of the memorial that will include a procession from the Main Entrance Arch to the Chapel; drummers representing the five city boroughs; a libation; folk singers from Jewish, African, African American and Garifuna traditions; and a participatory ritual of remembrance and naming the losses New Yorkers have suffered over the past three years. We welcome all to join us in commemorating those who have fallen to COVID-19 and remember them together.
In the event of heavy rain, the ceremony will take place in the Modern Chapel and guests will be required to wear a well-fitting mask. We will have extra masks on hand if you need.
Live Stream on Facebook
About NAMING THE LOST Memorials
In May of 2020, when the Covid pandemic first terrified New York City, with over a thousand New Yorkers dying each day, a group of intrepid folklorists, artists and cultural activists voluntarily took to the streets ignoring the dangers. Calling their effort, NAMING THE LOST Memorials (NTLM) their goal was to encourage mourners who had just lost loved ones without so much as a farewell hospital visit or a funeral service to create homegrown memorials in a public setting. Over Memorial Day weekend 2020, participatory public memorial sites were set up in all five boroughs, and continued to be organized through June 2021, when they were displayed along the fence at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
The Mellon Foundation has now announced a major award that will allow three additional years of support to create these grassroots memorials, sponsored by City Lore and NTLM and their partners Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders; Great Small Works; and Green-Wood Cemetery. The New-York Historical Society will acquire selected memorials both from the first two years of the pandemic, and the three years of the project.
The first new Naming The Lost memorial is scheduled to open at Green-Wood Cemetery on May 4, 2023 with a display of memorials and a ceremony including performances and prayers. The month-long display of memorials lining the fence along the Fifth Ave main entrance of Green-Wood will be on view and can be used as a spontaneous mourning site until the end of May. October programs will follow as part of Mano a Mano’s widely attended Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) memorials at St. Mark’s Church-in -the-Bowery. Selected artifacts of these ephemeral memorials will be archived at the New-York Historical Society for future exhibitions, public access, and research into the impact of the pandemic. Documentation of the memorials will also become part of an updated, interactive NTLM website where key elements will be translated into Spanish, Yiddish and Bengali, among others. To make the memorials, NTLM will enlist and collaborate with a total of forty different community groups whose constituents have suffered significant losses from Covid. Previous participants have included groups such as Mixteca Mexican Community Organization, La Troupe Makandal (Haitian), Hebrew Tabernacle, JouvayFest Collective, and Flushing Town Hall.
“The pandemic destroyed the social fabric of daily life, especially in the city’s most disadvantaged communities,” says Kay Turner, the project’s lead consultant and an early project organizer. “As a direct response to that devastation, we developed NAMING THE LOST Memorials. While permanent monuments tend to be erected in a top-down process, the ephemeral memorials of our project place the memorial creation in the hands of mourners, kin, neighbors, and strangers alike. This kind of important folk process may frequently go unheeded, but it is a living and longstanding tradition that has evolved over time to meet the needs of the grief-stricken.” NTLM also plans a series of educational lectures and workshops on the history and meaning of ephemeral memorials.
Elena Martínez, the project co-director and City Lore’s staff folklorist, adds “Though ephemeral in their immediate use, these memorials, when documented by professional photographers, made accessible on the web, and institutionally accessioned for future displays by a major museum, acquire the same kind of permanence as memorials made of stone.” The Project Team for NAMING THE LOST Memorials includes co-directors, activist Megan Paradis Hanley and folklorist Elena Martínez; lead consultant Kay Turner, folklorist and performer; Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders' Director, Juan Aguirre; artist Jenny Romaine from Great Small Works; Cofounder of JouvayFest Collective and our lead community liaison, Sandra A. M. Bell; and City Lore Co-Directors Steve Zeitlin and Molly Garfinkel.
New-York Historical’s President & CEO, Louise Mirrer, writes, “At the New-York Historical Society, we’ve been collecting history as it happens for decades as part of our History Response initiative. During the pandemic, our staff was on the ground gathering objects, artwork, diaries, and other ephemera that documented experiences of everyday New Yorkers living in unprecedented times. We’re proud to join the NAMING THE LOST Memorials to continue this important work.”
Following two years of the deadly virus, NAMING THE LOST Memorials offers New Yorkers an opportunity to collectively channel unexpressed grief from a pandemic which shredded the social fabric of daily life. Those interested in learning more about the project or downloading materials to make their own memorial can visit namingthelost.com/memorials .