Currently taking place on New York’s Governors Island is “PLOT 09: This World & Nearer Ones,” a public art quadrennial produced and created by Creative Time. Nineteen international artists were asked by curator Mark Beasley to create site-specific works responding to the particular situation of Governors Island, a 172-acre island in upper New York Bay, one half-mile from the southern tip of Manhattan. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer, a seven-minute ferry ride takes visitors to the island, where they can discover installation, performance, auditory and video projects that respond to the developing nature of Governors Island.
PLOT 09: This World & Nearer Ones [Creative Time]
Island as Inspiration and Canvas [NY Times]
Ferry Tale [Art Forum]
PLOT09: Exploring the World of Governors Island [ArtInfo]
Creative Time Presents New York City’s First Quadrennial on Governor’s Island [ArtDaily]
PLOT/09 Presents a Public Art Extravaganza on NYC’s Governors Island [Flavor Wire]
In his curatorial statement, Mark Beasley calls Governors Island “a modern ruin on the verge of rehabilitation.” This characterization of the island is examined through the artworks, which engage with the island’s history. For almost two centuries, Governors Island was a military base, home to the U.S. Army then to the Coast Guard. In 2003, the island was returned to the city of New York, on the condition that the island be used for public benefit. Several of the works deal explicitly with the island’s military past, and to this end make use of the various buildings constructed by the United States Military on Governors Island over several decades. For instance, Krzystof Wodiczko’s work, entitled “Veterans’ Flame,” takes place in Fort Jay, a military fort completed in 1798. On the southern half of the island, it is the upcoming demolition of buildings constructed after WW2 that is being addressed: Tue Greenfort’s subtly critical “Project for the New American Century” asks visitors to consider the consequences of the redevelopment of the island, as they walk past the U.S. Coast Guard residential community houses which are soon to be demolished.
The Bruce High Quality Foundation, “Isle of the Dead.”
Governors Island has endeavored to present itself as a cultural arts destination. One work in particular engages with Governors Island’s latest incarnation: in one of the shows most talked-about installations, “Isle of the Dead, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Death of the Art World,” the Bruce High Quality Foundation satirizes the resurgence of Governors Island as an art destination as well as the death of the art world under the current economic duress. The movie, which is screened in a disused movie theater, prognosticates that the New York City art world dies and rises from the dead, with zombies in search of an alternative space making their way to Governors Island, all the way into the very movie theater in which audience members are sitting.
Anthony McCall, “Between You and I.” Photo via Creative Time.
“Isle of the Dead” is one of five works in PLOT/09 that reopens areas of the island that were previously off-limits to the public. Another is Edgar Arcenaux’s “Sound Cannon Double Projection,” which takes place in abandoned military housing on Colonels Row – Arcenaux’s work consists of making the visitor experience the uncomfortable sensation created by penetrating into this deserted space. One of the best uses of the space of Governors Island is Anthony McCall’s installation, “Between You and I” which combines video projectors with haze machines in St. Cornelius Chapel, to create ephemeral sculptural forms suspended in air, where light encounters mist.
PLOT/09 does not confine itself to the island: certain projects bridge the gap between Governors Island and Manhattan, and fully exploits the island’s unique location and its views on Staten Island, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Plot/09 begins as soon as a spectator boards the ferry to the island and is confronted by Mark Wallinger’s signs, reading “Goats” and “Sheep,” attached to the upper-railings. Returning to Manhattan, Lawrence Weiner’s work becomes visible: the words “At The Same Moment,” stenciled onto the pilings besides the dock on the Manhattan side bring the experience of PLOT/09 to a close.
- Madeleine Compagnon
- All Photos by Art Observed unless otherwise noted.