I just LOVE this idea! Running round graveyards re-baptising people after they’re dead! People are such joy, when you think about it!

Temporary Art in Public Space

The Mormon ritual of posthumous baptism has recently made news for the proxy baptism of Jewish Holocaust victims, among other controversial baptisms of deceased persons.  I find this practice incredibly fascinating, and wrong in a way that is at times difficult to articulate, especially after reading accounts from Mormons on its importance to their religion, why the ritual is considered sacred. I researched the subject initially as an idea for a durational piece.  Everyday for a week, I would visit a cemetery bring an inflatable pool and a proxy to baptize.  I would stop at the graves of famous Pittsburghers and re-baptize them as different parts of my identity (African, female, feminist, progressive, etc) until by the end of the week, they would ultimately hold my ideals–or, to be more faithful to Mormon proxy baptism, have the chance to accept or reject my beliefs and identity.   Logistically, this was…

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12 comments

  1. Rose, this is some weird stuff! Baptism itself when someone is alive, well I suppose that makes sense as a christian ritual, but doing it to dead people, say what??? I suppose it’s kind of harmless, and interesting in a weird way. Thanks for digging this up for us to share 🙂

    CS.

    • If it turned out that there was a heaven, and I got there and they wouldn’t let me in because I’m an atheist, I guess I’d WANT someone to baptise me posthumously. That would be a very kind act, actually.

  2. Rose, i wish you lived in Chicago! We would have a hoot. I know this is an odd thing to say since our first activity would be baptizing dead people, but you ARE SO FUN and FUNNY … and smart, HELL, you’d be a great co-hort in pal-shite. Peace, you little grave-watering, open-minded lady 🙂 xo melis

    • I wish I did too! Hang on, no I don’t, Chicago is scary – I wish YOU lived on the east coast of Oz! You should come visit sometime! But anyway I’m very glad I met you, if only online – you’re the sweetest and cleverest! and a BRILLIANT artist – but I’ve said that trillions of times before. Of course before you come we should sort out WHAT we’re going to baptise the dead people as. I reckon Seventh Day Adventists, cause I think they’re vegetarian? but maybe I’m wrong on that.

      • MORE LAUGHING. Thanks, Australia sounds lovely. D and i want to go to AUS before we kick it (over and gone). Hey you could baptize me If i keeled in Australia. Anyway … yea, we gotta few miles between us. Hey … online is awesome. You’re so funny. I’m glad i met you too. Lively and lovely and BEAUTEOUS! 🙂

  3. Hello, just a heads up I’ve mentioned your blog in my latest post titled ‘Some of the blogs I read’. Nothing profound just a reading list of blogs I like. Keep blogging, Ruth x

  4. Posthumus baptism is fascinating, like other religious rituals. I believe good intentions are behind the practice and there is no harm done. But it sure is god Damn stupid. You may have inspired me to do a blog on the subject. Thanks.

    • no, it’s an entirely harmless practice (unless you believe there might be people being ripped out of their rightful place in heaven right now cause someone’s just gone and rebaptised them in a religion which doesn’t happen to exist). If you do blog on it, let me know – I’d be very interested to see it!

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