'A Healing Palindrome' – New Harmony, Indiana - Atlas Obscura

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'A Healing Palindrome'

Part of a worldwide art project, this mysterious semicircle of concrete shapes holds the pieces of a larger story. 


In the field just below the Atheneum in the charming town of New Harmony, Indiana, you’ll find a surprising display: a partial circle of about 20 mysterious concrete shapes.

This is “A Healing Palindrome,” one of the largest installations of Kcymaerxthaere, a global work of multivalent storytelling by artist Eames Demetrios. A series of plaques and other markers around the world honor events that have taken place in a parallel universe that, according to Demetrios, “co-exists to some degree with ours.” Most of these installations are bronze or stone plaques inscribed with stories but some are larger, even entire buildings. As of 2021, there are more than 140 sites spread across six continents and 30 countries.

The artwork was commissioned in 2014 by New Harmony for the town’s bicentennial. On the concrete forms, you can read—or piece together—the story of Gevrian Melam, who was left for dead when he was washed ashore in a flood. You see, he was one of Kcymaerxthaere’s biologically aquatic peoples who lived in a river so teaming with oxygen vents, they could simply breathe the water. But, washed ashore high and dry, he was presumed dead.  

So, as was their tradition, his brethren made a palindrome of their words, bruised them, and hurled them ashore, hoping that the healing energy would save Gevrian. And it did—the rest of the story you can find here on the grounds of the Atheneum in New Harmony. And, as with all the Kcymaerxthaere sites, you’ll find parts of the story in other parts of the world.

There are lots of beautiful walks to be taken in and around the town (or you can rent a golf cart). Two of America’s major experiments in communal living, one secular and one religious, occurred here. By choosing Kcymaerxthaere for the beginning of their next 200 years, the people of New Harmony were opting to celebrate possibilities once more.

Know Before You Go

A Healing Palindrome doesn't really have an address, it is in the field below the listed address. The good news is that New Harmony, Indiana is charming, filled with amazing history and not too big. So when you get to the only traffic light in town, look for the signs for the Atheneum or Visitors Center and you'll be on your way. A Healing Palindrome is in the field (which floods from time to time) just below the Atheneum, a beautiful just about all white modern building by Richard Meier.

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August 18, 2016

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