Sacred and Profane:
I walked the rows of NYC's necropolis, Calvary I, the air perfumed with saccharine vanilla - possibly from the neighboring Wonton Food Inc., on Bradley Avenue. here was a faint undertone of diesel fuel from any number of source - including the entrance ramp to the LIE and the automotive repair shops that line this section of Greenpoint Avenue. Angel-topped monuments and shrouded columns foreground an iconic view of Manhattan's skyline to the west. Turn around and you are confronted with the flow of traffic over the BQE's Kosciusko Bridge, the silver digesters of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the refineries that have slowly leaked oil into the neighborhood for decades. These adjacencies exude a rough vitality and a matter-of-fact disregard of the buried and the handful that mourn. Cemeteries and the unsightly infrastructures that serve the city's inhabitants collide in uncomfortable, ironic and inappropriate ways along the once forsaken edges of the outer boroughs. Yet the inscriptions, such as Adeline, Leonard, Celia, Beloved Son, papa, and sister transcend the often-banal periphery, fostering intimacy with these former, fellow New Yorkers.
As many of us move deeper into the outer boroughs, we are confronted with cemeteries, landscapes originally characterized in part by their geographical remoteness, built on hills overlooking a distant city that has been gradually encroaching ever since. For some of us (the editors) these spaces have become our local parks. The interactions between a cemetery and the city, as described above, has inspired this third issue of Prospect.
The word “necropolis,” is typically used to describe larger and often ancient cemeteries, defined as a city of the dead. This NECROPOLIS explores the cemetery, focusing on its meaning and experience as a landscape. Projects search to understand how cemeteries or burial grounds inform our relationships to history and place and ways that they present such an enormity and mystery as death. While it’s clear that the need for places to bury and honor the dead has shaped the landscape for centuries, even millennia, it is less clear how these landscapes have shaped us.
Marie Warsh, Nancy Seaton, Wayne Morris, Brendan Lorber, Seldon Yuan, Brenda Coultas, Zenobia Meckley, Ethan Fischer, Anni Peller, Tam Ochiai, Steven Bopp, Ginny Cook, Meghan T. Ray, Max Hooper Schneider, Greg Owens, Marco Wilkinson