Presented as part of the experimental curatorial project of SiSi Chen, Rhapsody Tentacular, at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, in collaboration with Sarah Crofts.

To Ashes (a grounding / a haunting / a dreaming) | 2024 took place across three stages: initially, as an interactive installation, where viewers were invited to write down personal messages to the land, those who have passed, or past/future selves, on handmade paper. The messages were then burned at various sites in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where nature borders and reclaims the constructed landscape. In stage three, recordings of the burning occurred in the presentation space, while the public was invited to use the resultant ashes to create intuitive drawings within the space itself.

The project references the traditional Chinese mourning ritual of burning joss paper for the dead, and the communicative and transformative ritual belief in the process of burning. Rather than reproducing the traditional trappings of the process, we are interested in the poetic and secular gesture of attempting to pass on messages to the intangible, and the desire for a collective releasing of grief. The cyclical, interactive format of the process speaks to the non-linearity of healing, and the hope that empathetic community can offer mourners some relief.


Choose a question that speaks to you. Write your response, then fold up the paper and place it in the metal bowl.


1). Which land—under concrete, below your feet, here, or miles away—would you like to speak to? What would you like to say?



2). Who, or what, have you been carrying with you for too long? What would you like to tell them, as you release them?



3). Think of a moment in your past, or anticipated future. What message would you like to share with this self?