All Night I Mourned Myself

When I am gone what will be said? · 2010

John Shipman, All Night I Mourned Myself, Nuit Blanche 2010A site-specific installation that plays with ways in which we might think about and respond to our own death, All Night I Mourned Myself: When I am gone what will be said? builds on the physicality and emotional associations embedded in a public site for funerals and mourning, in this case St. Matthew's United Church, a listed heritage building dating from 1878.

« Very unique, interesting, beautiful and inspiring. »

Using this special space, All Night provided an experiential opportunity for Nuit Blanche visitors to playfully engage with their mortality through an audio / visual simulation of their own funeral. A surprising 217 visitors left comments about the project.

What will they say?

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto visitors attended their own funeral on 2–3 October 2010. Entering the darkened church sanctuary, they lay down on quiet wooden pews fitted with comfortable head rests and CoffinPhones. Looking up to the arched ceiling 27.6 m (30 feet) overhead, they saw a video projection as if mourners were looking down at them in their own open coffin or grave.

Picking up their CoffinPhone they listened to what was said by the mourners as they passed by — words of grief ranging from ancient Greek laments to intensely personal postings on virtual memorial websites. The voices spoke about a lost partner, a family member, a friend.

Slideshow · photographs of the installation
Comments from Nuit Blanche visitors

Mourners speak

Lying in a coffin/pew in a darkened church.
Looking up at mourners looking down.
Hearing a voice on the CoffinPhone.

Watch a short video clip below.


John Shipman · Project direction, installation, audio and video and texts adapted from Anonymous, Roland Barthes, Aubrey Beardsley, Catallus, E.P. Coleridge, Jacques Derrida, Emily Dickinson, Matthew Lawrence, John Milton, Marcel Proust, Leo Tolstoy, and postings on Internet forums
Pamela Williams · Photography of cemetery sculptures · 
Zhang Xing · Music composition and performance ·
Myung-Sun Kim · Coffin/Pew lights
Malu Baumgarten · author and reader of Requiem for Elisabeth
Wil Moll · electronic circuit design for the CoffinPhones
Joy Shipman · poster design
Zhu Yanyan · Guqin performer
St. Matthew's United Church · venue sponsor

Mourners · Nikki Abraham, Doug Bond, Colin Campbell, Patrick Gallagher, Janna Hiemstra, Lara Huntsman, Myung-Sun Kim, Anna Kryzanowski, Stan Kryzanowski, Kira Huntsman Mekur, Elisabeth Shipman, Emilie Shipman, Susanne Tabur, Harry Vance

Volunteers · Jody Endicott, Sheila Moll, Clara Shipman, Elisabeth Shipman, Emilie Shipman, Victoria Shipman, Marcelle St-Amant and many others

Please contact John for more info about All Night I Mourned Myself as presented at St. Matthew's United Church, 729 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto on 2–3 October 2010.

Photos · Marcelle St-Amant and Myung-Sun Kim
Mourners Speak · Myung-Sun Kim