Chilling Church Embers


Burnt Church 4

A visit to San Francisco’s De Young Museum on a calm Tuesday revealed, as always, some intriguing discoveries. An unexpectedly poignant piece is an installation of the charred remains of an Alabama church, suspended on wires from the ceiling. On entering, you feel as though you have walked into a super slow-motion explosion scene from an action movie; time slows to a standstill, and as you watch the blackened wood fragments hover in mid-air, the devastation seeps into your consciousness. This was a Black Baptist church, burnt by arsonists.

The very personable museum worker pointed out a piece of the piano wires, here, and a section of a pew, there; he even pointed out a piece of blackened wood that resembles the hand of Christ signaling peace. The work, entitled “Anti-Mass,” was created by Cornelia Parker in 2005.

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