Sheryl Oring, “Collective Memory”


Photograph of “Collective Memory” box, closed.


Photograph of “Collective Memory” box, open.


One of 315 4×6” cards included in the “Collective Memory” box.


One of 315 4×6” cards included in the “Collective Memory” box.




Artist: Sheryl Oring (Greensboro, NC)

Title: Collective Memory (2012)

Medium/technique(s): Artist’s book in box

Edition size: 10

Number of pages: 315

Dimensions, open: 9 x 6.5 x 7.5″

Dimensions, closed: 6 x 6.5 x 7.5″


Artist statement:

Collective Memory is an interactive public performance created by Sheryl Oring that posed the question: “What would you like the world to remember about 9/11?” to an audience at Bryant Park in New York City on the 10th anniversary of September 11th. The Collective Memory box functions as a portable exhibition based on the 2011 performances.

Published in 2012 in an edition of 10, each box contains 315 digitally printed index cards with messages dictated during the Collective Memory performances held on September 9, 10, and 11, 2011. A pool of ten typists, each dressed in black 60s-era office attire, set up a public typing pool in the Bryant Park behind the main branch of the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan. Passersby were invited to share their thoughts about what they would like the world to remember about the devastating events of 9/11.

Through these innovative means, the work attempts to personalize this historical event in a way that might not otherwise be possible. Answers to the question were typed verbatim on blank 4×6″ index cards, with participants adding rubber-stamp messages to each card. The cards were subsequently exhibited at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where Oring is an art professor. The Collective Memory box is a 6 x 6.5 x 7.5″ hinged Buckram-covered box handmade by Brooklyn-based Talas with the title die-stamped on cover. Each box contains:
1) a hand-typed and artist-signed introduction
2) 315 4×6 index cards with messages typed during performances at New York’s Bryant Park
3) 315 steel clips for display of the cards
4) a DVD with a 7-minute video documenting the performances