CORONAVIRUS LIGHT MEMORIAL FOR HART ISLAND

CORONAVIRUS LIGHT MEMORIAL FOR HART ISLAND

Architect
Axis Mundi
Location
Hart Island
Project Year
2021
Category
Memorials

CORONAVIRUS LIGHT MEMORIAL FOR HART ISLAND, BRONX NYC

Axis Mundi as Architects

CORONAVIRUS LIGHT MEMORIAL FOR HART ISLAND, BRONX NYC

NUMINOUS is a proposed annual light installation consisting of twelve (12) powerful light beacons arrayed in a 250-yard grid across Hart Island. The intention of the project is to create a sacred space imbued with light, that would honor the interned, both the known and unknown.

”The history of Hart Island is almost mythic, it truly is an island of lost souls. I’ve had a visceral fascination with the island for some time, and I’ve been touched by the enormous tragedy of the place, the burials of the unknown and forgotten, the stacked pine boxes in unmarked graves. I’ve thoughtfully considered what would be the most appropriate way to pay tribute to their lives, yet leave no traces on the landscape itself. Hence I arrived at the concept for Numinous, which is a concept derived from the Latin numen meaning "arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring ” stated John Beckmann, the founder of the interdisciplinary design firm Axis Mundi.

Hart Island measures approximately 1 mile long by 0.33 miles wide, where more than one million bodies are buried in unmarked graves. Beginning as a Civil War prison and training site and later a psychiatric hospital, the location became the repository for New York City’s unclaimed dead. The island’s mass graves are a microcosm of New York history, from the 1822 burial crisis to casualties of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and the victims of the AIDS and Coronavirus epidemics. The dead are buried in trenches. Babies are placed in coffins, which are stacked in groups of 1,000, measuring five coffins deep and usually in twenty rows. Adults are placed in larger pine boxes placed according to size, and are stacked in sections of 150, measuring three coffins deep in two rows. There are seven sizes of coffins, which range from 1 to 7 feet long. Each box is labeled with an identification number, the person's age, ethnicity, and the place where the body was found.

Concept + Design: John Beckmann
Illustrations: Nicole Girdo and Sara Kostic
Lighting Consultants: SpaceCannon, Italy

© 2020 Axis Mundi Design LLC

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