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Brooklyn, New York

Tomb of Secrets at Green-Wood Cemetery

A way to take your secrets to someone else's grave. 

Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery has always had many secrets buried in it. For the next 25 years, it will have a specifically designated repository for its visitors’ hushed confessions.

There is no body entombed under the white marble obelisk in Green-Wood labeled Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery. Instead, the tombstone has a slot in it where visitors can deposit their deepest, darkest secrets written on sheets of paper. 

The project is a public art collaboration between the cemetery, the arts organization Creative Time, and the French conceptual artist Sophie Calle. For the first two days of the installation, April 29 and 30, 2017, Calle herself was on site to meet the confessors and deposit their intimacies. She plans to return to the site periodically, whenever the tomb is full, to exhume and cremate the accumulated secrets. 

Calle’s past art projects have included documenting the movements of a complete stranger and filming her mother’s last breath before reading the woman’s diary out loud over the course of 30 hours for an audience. Her inspiration for this latest project came when an ex-lover left her with a terrible secret upon breaking up with her. The time frame of 25 years comes from the fact that in France, graves that don’t get visitors after about 25 years are given to new tenants. 

Know Before You Go

The obelisk is located on Bay Grove Hill where Bayside Avenue meets Bay Grove Path. From the 25th Street entrance to the cemetery, head up Battle Avenue, take a right on Bayside Avenue, and then another right on Bay Grove path when you get to the loop. If you hit Arbor or Sycamore Avenue, you turned too early. Follow the gaze of the statue of Governor Dewitt Clinton.

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