Between a Stone and a Shrine
Urban dilapidation has been plaguing communities all across the country. The only way to revitalize those that have fallen is to enlist the help of the greater community members. Oreen Cohen has decided to do just that with Braddock. As part of her Masters of Fine Arts degree at Carnegie Mellon University, Cohen began the project of Between a Stone and a Shrine, a film focused on the rejuvenation of Braddock. The film is more than just your average documentary or blockbuster. It’s a performance that features residents of Braddock and the greater Pittsburgh area as its stars.
Between a Stone and a Shrine follows the story of a gilded gold leaf casket filled with sunflower seeds. The casket will be flown by helicopter over the city of Pittsburgh and then transported by train to Braddock where community members will lead it in procession to its burial plot right in the heart of Braddock. From there, the casket, which represents one giant seed similar to the ones it is filled with, will be buried, or rather planted, in order to represent the need and capability of urban communities to grow and regenerate.
Every willing and abled community member is invited to greet the golden casket at the Carrie Furnace, a symbol of Pittsburgh’s industrial past. In a filmed performance, community members will carry the casket down Braddock Avenue to its burial plot, an abandoned lot on Talbot Avenue. After the burial is complete, everyone will plant sunflower seeds covering the plot of land, which will later bloom to convey the potential for growth, beauty, and change through community engagement. The procession will be held on Saturday, January 25th from 11AM to 2PM, with an invitation extended to all.
Oreen Cohen says the goal of her film is “to permeate the local history and mythology by translating social tensions into narratives.” She uses several symbols throughout the film such as helicopters, which are often used in times of urgency, to stress the necessity of invoking change to destitute urban areas.The completed project will “provide a narrative of hope, preservation and transformation for post-industrial neighborhoods.”
The screening of the film will take place on March 28th from 5PM to 9PM in the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University and also at the Braddock Community Center at a to-be-determined date.