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In May 2004 I was invited to participate in the art project, Trembling Ground that took place in Casacalenda, a small town in the Molise region of Italy. The thematic of the event was in response to a severe earthquake the previous year that had affected the area, including the collapse of an elementary school in which a number of children were killed.

Six artists from Montreal travelled to Casacalenda where they created or presented various temporal and public works. For my part, I made ribbons that were given to residents of the town to place in a location that was somehow meaningful to them in relation to the earthquake. The ribbons used a quote by Spalding Gray – “such a dangerous thing to love what death can touch” – that had been cited in a newspaper article about his recent death. This was translated into Italian. Gray was noted as the source of the quote. The ribbons were eight-and-a-half feet long and two inches wide and printed with white text on a turquoise coloured ground. I asked people to display the ribbons during the five days of the event. Afterwards they could do whatever they wanted with them. In addition, a large cluster of the ribbons were placed above the doorway of the town hall.

People related to the phrase and placed the ribbons in thoughtful and meaningful places – on favourite trees in their yards, on balconies overhanging the street, in the now deserted home of grandparents, at the local school and cemetery, on a beautiful tree on a small green space across from the entrance of an historic church where there were a large number of Ex -Votos. One man, who worked in a home for disabled persons that been displaced from the centre of the town because of the earthquake, placed his ribbon inside the old building over one of the long cracks in the wall.

Media: print on polyester ribbon
Dimensions: 5 x 250 cm (2” x 8’6”)

Video documentation: Peter White