PERSEPHONE (FROM THE DIVINING SERIES)
CAITLIN MARY MARGARETT
I enter a circular, sacred space comprised of 400 hand-dyed and screen-printed envelopes, and 79 ceramic tiles. The space is heavily fragranced with frankincense and pomegranate. The red envelopes are addressed to “her,” “him,” and “them.” The tile floor is a mixture of iconography that pays tribute to the myth of Persephone, the most reproduced and beautified story of rape in western art history. A red pomegranate is prominently situated in the middle of the floor design, with a bundle of wheat below it for her mother, Demeter. Around the edge of the tile floor the carved text reads “I believe her, I believe in Her, I believe her,” paying homage to the #MeToo movement. Over a hundred pounds of rock salt secure the tile floor into place, three triangular pedestals occupying the voids in the tile pattern. The tallest pedestal holds raw, white envelopes, one holds a bowl of pomegranate juice and dye, and the shortest holds a bowl of salt. I stand in the middle of the tile floor, one hundred fifty red envelopes dancing above me, suspended from the ceiling. I center myself, humming. I begin singing the words “freedom come” in a low, slow voice. I turn to the pedestal with the white envelopes. I pick one up, singing still, and I walk to the edge of the tile panel beside the pedestal. I hold it out, the text facing me, and sing to it for several minutes. I then move back to center and melodically wail into the envelope until satisfied. I let silence fill the room, I let the energy swell in the quiet. Beginning to sing again, I turn to the bowl of juice and dye. I immerse this now emotionally heavy object in the juice, taking my time to achieve a vibrant color. I walk to the edge of the tile panel beside this bowl, and hold it out for the audience to see the pronoun on the front of the envelope. I continue singing, letting the paper drip dry. I turn to the bowl of salt and fill the envelope, sealing it once it is a third full. I again stand at the edge of the adjacent tile panel, the text facing out. I sing for a few minutes more, “freedom come, freedom come.” Finally, I add the envelope to the installation, and repeat this ceremony for two hours.