Cenotaph (the Committee on Light)

4 x 8 drywall panels, paint, wood, corner beads, joint compound, antique rail road gas lantern

A phantom of the long and turbulent history of Richmond Virginia, the Fulton Gas Works compound rots not far beyond the perimeter of downtown. Established in 1848 the Committee on Light was tasked with implementing the manufacture and distribution of gas used to light the streets of Richmond at night time. An original location was chosen in the heart of downtown ultimately provided little room for growth. Thus in 1853 the current land where Fulton Gas resides was purchased with construction beginning immediately to match the expanded demand for lights throughout the city.

By the mid 1930s the decline in use of “manufactured natural gas” was beginning and the costly environmental effects of nearly 100 years of industrial pollution was becoming more apparent. The process by which gas had been produced at Fulton involved the burning of coal and the creation of a tar like substance holding thousands of unique chemical compounds harmful to life. The site was used for other industrial activity until the early 70s when it was finally closed off for good. It remains dormant other than the occasional trespasser, although the city has considered using it for a baseball stadium or a slavery museum. 

Over a weeks time I snuck into the South West corner of a caving skeletal building near the center of the Fulton Gas Works compound. I patiently worked clearing and sweeping the floor before constructing a Cenotaph for the Committee on Light. The project was completed with a performance where by I walked a lit gas lantern through the compound to the location of the cenotaph where the lantern was placed into a small alcove in the side. There I waited for sunset before removing the lantern and exiting the compound allowing the cenotaph to be slowly enveloped into the dissolving frame of its enclosure.