41st 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, 2024 and time for the president of the IRS (International Re-Rooters Society), Jay Critchley, to preside over this deep-rooted, historic, global ritual at 4:00 pm, East End, Harbor Hotel beach, Provincetown Harbor.
This post-Christmas, 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 40 years, the annual community ritual has been enacted in Provincetown Harbor on January 7, a purging of political and personal distress from the year gone by. The mission of the IRS is to re-root ourselves 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, ideas and extrapolates from the evolving language of the year from various media sources and writings. The words form the basis of the theme and content of the ceremony, culminating in the “Ten Commandments” call and response.
Previous themes include: Grass-fed Capitalism, 2023; 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 (non-toxic) 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. jaycritchley.com
Jay is a conceptual and multidisciplinary artist, writer and activist whose work has traversed the globe, showing across the US and in Argentina, Japan, England, Spain, France, Holland, Germany, Ireland and Columbia.
He was honored by the Massachusetts State Legislature as an artist and founder and director of the Provincetown Community Compact, producer of the Swim for Life, which has raised $6M for AIDS, women’s health and the community.
Jay has had residencies at: Santa Fe Art Institute, NM; Fundacion Valparaiso, Mojacar, Andalucia, Spain; CAMAC, Marnay-sur-Seine, France; Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center, NYC; Milepost 5, Portland, OR; Cill Rialaig, Co. Kerry, Ireland; and Harvard University where he also lectured.
His movie, Toilet Treatments, won an HBO Award and he recently gave a TEDx Talk: Portrait of the Artist as a Corporation.
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