Shroud for Soul Murderers
A project about sexual violence
In Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, a French revolutionary secretly records a list of people to be killed, by encoding names into her knitting. When asked by police what the mysterious object she’s making is, she answers “a shroud”.
Instead of political enemies, Shroud for Soul Murderers encodes, on embroidered burlap scrolls, the names of those who perpetrate sexual violence—and rather than calling for violence, it serves as a place to metaphorically lay to rest those who have caused irreparable harm. The title of the work refers both to the literary moment described above and to the term that playwright Henrik Ibsen coined to describe “the destruction of the love of life in another human being.”
This massive work, installed emerging from walls and ceilings and pooling on the floor, stands in for the collective weight and persistence of cultural trauma and denial. With the names of perpetrators distinctly listed but unable to be read as text, it highlights the individuals responsible while closing the door on suggestions of false accusations.