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Artists Create Exhibit of Others' Sins

The act of confession is now an artistic expression. During the first half of 2006, two performing artists named Laura Barnett and Sandra Spannan created an exhibit in a storefront in Manhattan that allowed passers-by to alleviate their guilt.

The two women dressed as 19th century washerwomen and sat in the storefront, one of them underlining the words on the glass—"Air your dirty laundry. 100 percent confidential. Anonymous. Free."—the other painting. Onlookers were encouraged to write their deepest secrets on pieces of paper. When they had disappeared from sight, the women collected their confession and displayed it in the window for all to see.

The sins and secrets ranged from slightly humorous to sordid:

"The hermit crab was still alive when I threw it down the trash shoot."
"I want to see SUVs explode. Those people are so selfish."
"My girlfriend and I both think Osama Bin Laden has a sweet-looking face."
"I make fun of this one friend behind her back all the time. She just enrages me! But I get freaked out when I think of what she might say about me—I worry this means we're not really friends? Human relationships are infinitely confusing!"
"I haven't slept with my husband in a year and I am about to start an affair with ______."
"I haven't yet visited my dead parents' grave."
"I am dating a married man and getting financial compensation in exchange for the guilt. I'm 25 and he's a millionaire. It pays to be young."
"New York makes me feel lonely."

Barnett told the New York Times that the women are often overwhelmed by the weight of others' sins: "We go there, and the window is empty, and we're wearing all white. And at the end, the window is full, and we're covered with paint. It's exhausting. Some of those things are really, really sad. And afterwards, I need to take a bath."

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