40th Re-Rooters Day Ceremony
In the darkest days of a New England winter, after the “Twelve Days of Stockpiling” of the consumptive holidays, a band of people will huddle together on the sand flats in Provincetown Harbor to sing, chant and purge personal, political and psychic detritus from the previous year. It’s January 7, 2023 and time for the president of the IRS (International Re–Rooters Society), Jay Critchley, to preside over the 40th anniversary of this deep-rooted, historic, global ritual.
This post-Christmas, post-New Year’s, post-consumptive binging start up was born in 1983 at the Provincetown dump when Critchley created a forest of discarded Christmas trees and stood them up in the piles of wrapping paper, ribbons, turkey bones and garbage. For four decades, the community ritual has been enacted in Provincetown Harbor on January 7, after the twelve days of Christmas, a purging of political and personal distress from the year gone by. The mission of the IRS is to re-root to and embrace the earth body and all of our human and non-human relatives.
In preparation for the ceremony, the artist builds a makeshift boat and compiles words and ideas and extrapolates from the evolving language of the year from various media sources and writings, beginning in the fall. The words form the basis of the theme and content of the ceremony, culminating in the “Ten Commandments” call and response.
Previous themes include: Meta-purse, 2022; Viral Warming, 2021; Extractive Democracy, 2020; Oil My Lips,1991; Free ‘rade, 2002; Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, 1994; Sports Futility Vehicles, 1999; and 2013’s Pistol Cliff; ). The ceremony is officiated by the artist, with song, ranting, chanting and the placement of participants’ discarded messages on the tree/boat. The rite concludes with the dramatic burning of a recycled Christmas tree on the vessel, sent out into the harbor at sunset.
Image: Re–Rooters Day, January 7, 2016: Mobil Warming by Nancy Bloom
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