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A Covid memorial at this moment feels like rubbing salt into a fresh wound. As the damage gets more significant, it is the time for us, as human beings, to learn from the pain.
I chose Hart Island as the memorial location for the fact that victims of the pandemic are buried here and the dark history of the island itself.
By bringing truth to light, it gives back dignity to all the lost souls, the rejuvenation of Hart Island is our way to learn from our past.
Hart Island was the forbidden place that reminds us of how ignorant and brutal humans can be. It ripped off the wound we try to hide for a long time. It is whispering to us day and night miles away from the city, telling us if we don’t learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it.
The memorial is consists of three giant outdoor cubes. They are all connected by massive pipes, which are shaped like ventilator tubes. It reminds us of the struggle and pains that all the victims suffer during the pandemic. Three spaces rise up from the ground shows a sense of rejuvenation. The bricks on the outdoor space walls are from the abandoned buildings on the island. The old abandoned building behind the three cubes will be repaired and renovated to the museum of Hart Island, a place where the unspeakable history will be told.
The center space is for the families and friends of people buried on Hart Island. A white center installation is for them to write stories and memories. After decades of forbidden to visit, they finally have a space to share their love and thoughts with the lost souls.
The victims’ memorial hall is on the right side. Victims’ names of the world are collected and cover the whole wall. Their personal items are displayed in the space. Each item has its own story.
The left side space provides an opportunity between audiences and artists for communication. In the space, artists in different fields tell us stories using their own languages. There are emotions and feelings that audiences can find connections with. “The child” garden outside the space is the memorial garden for all the deceased stillborns and babies buried on Hart Island.
Covid pandemic leaves another wound on us. Like other tragedies preserved in Hart Island, millions of more lives will rest in this place. We can’t bring back those lost souls, but we can give back one last moment of dignity that they all deserved and is long overdue.
To heal is to change. The Covid memorial is the chance for us to choose a different path from the past. We don’t hold blind optimism for an uncertain future; we stop, look back, and accept the darkest moment we have been through as we learn and grow from the shame to make real change. We move on with the healed heart to a better future for each one of us.
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