Earth Day, 2010.
I confess. These are powerful words, implying a complete and voluntary vulnerability to the recipient of the confession. I confess: these words reject any last-minute hesitations, any bargaining with the devil. Confession conjures images of truths wrought from the depths of the soul, relief purchased with a willingness to face painful penalty.
In this American culture, however, the concept of confession is also burdened with a blanket of laughability and kitschiness, a creamy filling of irony sandwiched between caked layers of pretense.
Our guilt is real in spite of our disrespect for the mummified rituals of confession, and the interactive Eco-Confessional stands like a kind friend, bemused but ready to accept without judgement, laughing at itself, laughing with us at ourselves.
The Booth is created from a recycled refrigerator box. Not only is this the perfect shape for this project, but it will also be an humorous irony, an excellent symbol for American consumerism. On another level, the confessional booth offers a metaphor: we put ourselves into a box, we choose to confess and transform ourselves, then we allow ourself back out of the box .... and celebrate! Poetically, we are released, cleansed, forgiven.
A major motivation for this project has been my own complex mix of feelings about the ecological issues facing our planet. Awareness of my own American privilege, of guilt for ecological damage done before I knew better, of non-compliance with good eco-practises when I DID know better, of compassion for the vulnerable critters and plants on the planet, of desire to do the right thing, to absolve myself of my own eco-sins: these reflections have led to this concept.
One of the hypotheses for this work, then, is that others feel the same as I. With laughter and jokes, I confess to my friends, and they respond in kind, and the laughter heals us. It feels great! Pretense and guilt are so stifling. While my confessional humor relates to topics like dog poop, the true sin that I myself hope to be absolved of, is pretense.
There must be truth in the proverbs, “Laughter, and Confessions, are Good for the Soul”. Anecdotally, I’ve read that releasing these emotions causes a neurochemical release, “feel-good” endorphins and peptides. So, there may be a bio-chemical element that breaks the cycles of addiction and victimization which form the basis of repeated dysfunctional behaviors. Clearly, polluting our earth is dysfunctional. Interplay of fun, education, and motivation to change behavior: these are the goals of the Eco-Confessional.
cardboard refrigerator box; found plastic net and astro-turf;
construction paper; recycled pallet, Crayola crayons.
performative conversations, led by the artist
6' x 3' x 3' plus nearby seating for conversation