The Shame Project: Collecting your shame in BRC since 2008
The experience of shame is part of our shared humanity, yet paradoxically, the times when we are ashamed are the times when we feel most alone. But within shame lies a capacity for human connection. The Shame Bearers seek to explore this emotion as a powerful medium for reaching a state of shared vulnerability. In order to make connection –the core human desire– we must believe that we are enough, that we are worthy of love and acceptance. In our vulnerability and our recognition of our mutual imperfections, we can find worthiness and connection. That is the power of this project.
Our tools are simple–tunics, sharpies, time. We ask strangers to share their shame with us in conversation and to scribble their stories on our muslin tunics, which we then carry onward and display to more participants. Once the garments are full of imparted shame, we burn them as a ritual of catharsis.
This summer we and Nebunele Theatre travel to Black Rock City to share this project at Burning Man. To make a larger impact this year, we are building a beautiful and contemplative structure, transforming the small safe space of shame conversations into a larger space that will encourage emotional vulnerability at a community level, and provide a welcoming place to encourage the contemplation of all our collected shame. An Order of 30 shame collectors will be present on the playa, to reach as many BRC citizens as we can.