SECRETS /// Sharing what makes us human and finding a ritual peace through fire; a participative art installation bringing communities together.

SECRETS creates a space where people can process their personal experiences together, in a safe and positive atmosphere. It combines private and public rites of affirmation and release, and will take on different local meanings as communities across the world invest in it.

Seven wooden letters, three and a half metres high, are erected in a circular formation on a large city square. Together they spell the word “SECRETS”. Over several days people are invited inside the circle to fill in cards that say:

“This is my secret, let’s burn it together: _________________________________________”

Visitors can free themselves of a concealed truth and, anonymously, pin it to the inside of the wooden letters. Or they can simply come within the space to witness other people’s secret hopes, passions, regrets and see the humanity that surrounds us. On the last evening everyone comes together in silent celebration to watch the installation burn. SECRETS is both a personal process and a public event, about renewal and letting go.

A new ritual in the heart of the city to bring back community
SECRETS allows citizens of all cultures, belief systems, orientations, gender or age to come together in a creative and meaningful way. It’s a participative and inclusive initiative designed to improve wellbeing and strengthen community. The installation will be adapted to local cultures as it takes root around the world.

Whether pagan or religious, communal cathartic rites have existed through the ages. But in today’s western societies, dealing with inner wellbeing has largely shifted to the private world of the individual, the family or the therapist. With its giant letters set in a central public location, SECRETS shifts the focus from the individual back to the community. Whatever our external differences or belief systems, SECRETS reveals – literally makes visible - our common core human aspirations and preoccupations.

Across time and cultures fire has been associated with destruction, renewal, passion, hope. It’s a powerful and transformative element. Faced with the blazing letters and the secrets within, people experience – together - forgiveness, acceptance and release ; a symbolic cleansing through fire, leading to a rising from the ashes.

SECRETS premièred in Rennes in January 2022 at Les Tombées de la Nuit

Video here
Photo gallery here

Photo credits : © Nicolas Joubard, Benjamin Le Bellec, Elie Lahoud-Pinot

Happy City Lab - 50 rue Rothschild - 1202 Geneva - Switzerland