9. A Temple to Oscar Wilde in Greenwich Village

The Green Carnation, Oscar Wilde, O.W. c.33 (1923), 1994. Collection of Bruno Bischofberger, Switzerland. Courtesy of the artists.

On September 11, The Church of the Village will be transformed by artists David McDermott and Peter McGough, as they unveil the ambitious installation entitled, The Oscar Wilde Temple. The project celebrates the life of Irish author, novelist, poet, and playwright Oscar Wilde (1864-1900) who refused to hide his sexuality, even when faced with imprisonment and hard labor.

The installation will transform the Russell Chapel within the church into a Victorian era environment, as it was when Wilde visited America in 1882-1883. The centerpiece of the Temple will be a central altar built around a 4-foot 3-inch figure of Wilde, carved in a devotional style out of linden wood. A secondary alter is set up specifically for honoring those who have died from AIDS and those still suffering worldwide, along with a book for visitors wishing to inscribe tributes.

This is a site-specific installation, which also celebrates two ministers from The Church of the Village in its history, Rev. Paul M. Abels and Rev. C. Edward Egan. The Temple project is a collaboration between The Church of the Village and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City (The Center), in a joint effort to foster deeper ties between the two institutions.

The Oscar Wilde Temple, curated by Alison Gingeras, will be on view at The Church of the Village through December 2, 2017. During this time, the Temple will be available for private ceremonies, including weddings, memorials, and other celebrations (on a reserved basis). All proceeds from these events will support The Center’s programs for LGBTQ youth at risk of homelessness.

While you are there, take a walk through the AIDS Memorial at St. Vincent’s Triangle, unveiled late last year. Across the street, at Mulry Square, you will find the Tiles for America which were created after 9/11 by artists and local residents.