Tracing Memory
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Black trees, blue trees, white trees, bare trees —
Whatever was my life has been returned to me
in a made-of-trees coffin
killed in action like a veteran husband, its flag
a pitiful consolation,
its flag a smug presupposition,
for some greater cause more important
apart from what you know to be the most important to you:
his voice, his smile…

To me, the world now held away, irreversibly,
that once was just (now “just”?) suspended,
when I thought then there could be no greater torture.

Life’s truest truth, it’s that truth itself
unravels in ways that reveal less not more sense or comfort.

From Black Milk
by Tory Dent



A continuous, rising walkway of stairs and ramps cantilevered from the inner surface of the walls draw visitors along this timeline from the ground to the sky, through space and memory. With each step, new sight of the adjacent park space reveals it as a secret sanctuary, pixelated by flourishing trees, benches, glass lights, and other moments of repose around which the public gathers to relax and enjoy life living and life remembered. Peering outward through the punctured walls, visitors view St. Vincents, the West Village, and the city, framed through the stark representations of loved ones lost, like windows through a collective soul materialized, looking back at the living world beyond.

An elevator in the wall then carries the memorial experience from this brightest height to the depths of the underground exhibition space. Darker and denser, the open basement appears an infinite volume pierced by light from the pixels of glass above in a dramatic chiaroscuro of space. Drifting through the obscurity, visitors view art, ephemera, and further documentation of the AIDS story, absorbing stories indexed to the representations above. Rising back to ground level through another elevator, the journey concludes where it began, to in life in a continuous cycle of pure experience and visceral remembrance.