In Memoriam: Images of Notable People Who Passed in 2008

In Memoriam: Images of Notable People Who Passed in 2008

Music: Mavis Staples/Hard Times

In Memoriam: Images of Notable People Who Passed in 2008

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In Memoriam: Rest in Peace

In Memoriam: Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace, by Helen M. Stummer, documents spontaneous street memorials in and around Newark dedicated to young people killed by gang violence, car accidents or drug overdoses. Ms. Stummer also seeks out relatives and friends of the dead and documents their mourning. The imagery is direct, confrontational and often affecting. The street memorials she depicts range from elaborately decorative wall murals and impromptu shrines to spray-painted lettering spelling out names of the deceased along with the abbreviation R.I.P. Most of the photographs also come with short text panels explaining the imagery and giving a brief outline of the deceased person’s life.

Street memorials painted on public walls are graffiti and therefore illegal. But as one anonymous young person is quoted as saying in a text panel beneath a photograph of a mural on the side of a warehouse building, “It is often all a community has to hold onto.” Though illegal, the graffiti murals serve a purpose common to all public memorials: remembering the dead.

Some loved ones have been memorialized with shrines. Plastic flowers, liquor bottles, balloons, incense, candles, rosary beads, teddy bears and other mementos are often part of such assemblages, surrounding a central photograph of the person who died. The shrines are shown in all kinds of places, from the foot of curbside lampposts to vacant blocks. They are ad hoc funerary structures.

For readers who are interested in learning more about Helen Stummer’s Rest in Peace, please go here.

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