About a year ago I started gathering items in a box that I labeled "Burn Your Identity: Deposit fuel here."
I at last made use of all the checkbooks, bank statements, and credit card offers that filled that box when I held my first annual "Burn Your Identity" party.
At 5pm on Sunday, October 29th, a group of friends and I met in Lincoln Woods, 12 miles north of Providence, RI. Everyone arrived in black tops and jeans (our "uniform"), as requested, and once we had the fire going I handed out white face masks for everyone to wear for the ceremony.
See the FILM of Burn Your Identity!
View the Burn Your Identity INVITE!
I wrote a Burn Your Identity RHYMERAP for the event, and I had everyone chant the chorus while we burned our identity items.
Burn Your Identity engages the power of the shared symbolic act on both physical and metaphysical levels. While our identities* cannot be erased (by our own or really anyone's hands) in virtual space, nor entirely in the paper realm, the ritual enactment of a symbolic gesture gives us the opportunity to embody our desire to break with corporate control and marking of our identities. Through this shared symbolic act we can sense the possiblity of individual and communal agency in the face of corporate branding and surveillance of our "identities."
Participants expressed surprise at the powerful feelings raised by ritually burning corporate-identity items. It might have had something to do with the dark, the wind, the woods, the masks, but we agreed that the content of our fuel for that fire left us feeling more unsettled and "cut loose" than we had imagined. The symbolic act and ritual environment seemed to reshape and profoundly unsettle our deeply ingrained (and continually rehearsed) relationship to corporate and social existence, long signified by our weighty paper trails.
Quote of the night, as we stood in the cold wind: "It takes a long time to burn your identity!"
*I use the term "identity" as it correlates to the wide spread fear of "having one's identity stolen."