Prospective Participant Proposal Deadline.
Officially Enlisted Participant Notification.
May 10th – 13th.
Participant Encampment Installation.
Ceremonial Welcome & Overnight Encampment on Governors Island.
The Muster Open to the Public from 12 to 5 PM. Declaration
of Causes at 2 PM.
May 15th – 16th.
To download a printable version of the official Muster
Press Release please click
PUBLIC ART FUND.
The Muster is a project of the Public
Art Fund program In the Public Realm, which
is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The
New York State Council on the Arts, A State Agency, the
City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, the Office
of the Brooklyn Borough President, The Greenwall Foundation,
The Silverweed Foundation, The JPMorgan Chase Foundation,
and friends of the Public Art Fund.
Public Art Fund is New York’s leading presenter
of artists’ projects, new commissions, installations
and exhibitions in public spaces. For over 25 years the
Public Art Fund has been committed to working with emerging
and established artists to produce innovative exhibitions
of contemporary art throughout New York City. The Public
Art Fund is a non-profit arts organization supported by
generous gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporations,
and with public funds from The New York State Council
on the Arts, a State Agency, and the New York City Department
of Cultural Affairs.
TO GOVERNORS ISLAND.
Governors Island National Monument is currently closed
for the season until
regularly scheduled public tours resume in June 2005.
However, a portion of the island will be open to the public
on May 14th for this special occasion, The Muster.
Access to Governors Island is by ferry only.
to the Governors Island Ferry
The Governors Island Ferry departs from Slip 7 of the
Battery Maritime Building located adjacent to the Staten
Island Ferry in Lower Manhattan. Click
here for a map showing the Governors Island ferry
terminal location in Lower Manhattan. The ferry terminal
is accessible as follows:
1, 9 – South Ferry Station
4, 5 – Bowling Green Station
R, W – Whitehall St. Station
M1, M6, M9 and M15
There is no public parking at the Governors Island ferry
Here for a map of parking garages in Lower Manhattan.
THE OFFICIAL MUSTER BROADSHEET. Click
Here to download pdf document.
Please send inquiries in writing to Allison Smith:
356 24th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
United States of America
in the mighty mustering,
No petty hate intrudes,
No rival discords mar the strength
Of rising multitudes;
The jealousies of faith and clime
Which fester in success,
Give place to sturdy friendships
Based on mutual distress;
For every thinking citizen who draws the sword, knows
The battle's for Humanity--for Freedom's citadel!
—John Savage, Muster of the North, 1861
There will be no firearms that fire or make smoke at the
Muster, nor any
open fires or fireworks. And remember, if it's illegal
in front of City
Hall or the First Precinct or the White House, it is going
to be illegal at
|A Polyphonic Marshalling
MUSTER IS A PUBLIC ART EVENT IN WHICH
ARTIST ALLISON SMITH invokes the aesthetic vernacular
of the American Civil War battle reenactment as a stage
set for a polyphonic marshalling of voices in her artistic
and intellectual communities. The Muster takes form
in a creative encampment on the Fort Jay marching grounds
of Governors Island, in which fifty enlisted participants
fashion uniforms, build campsites, and declare their
causes publicly to an audience of spectators. Smith
creates a literal platform, complete with banners and
flags, to identify the creative minds in her midst and
to celebrate what they are fighting for. Smith directs
but does not script the event, so that its outcome is
only revealed at the Muster itself.
By Allison Smith
IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, it becomes necessary
for people to solidify the creative, intellectual, and
political bonds that connect ourselves to one another,
a respect to the opinions of Everyone requires that
we should Declare the Causes which impel us to the confederation.
It is to this ultimate end that I wish to address you,
that this proclamation be heard by All who find themselves
in the midst of War.
Whereas the issues before us, rapidly assuming a portentous
magnitude, deserve formal acknowledgement, I hereby
proclaim that the means which conduce to a desirable
result are now in Your Hands. Are you ready to devote
your time, energies, blood and treasure to the Declaration
of your Cause? For the opportunity is now at hand, not
only to make your voice be heard but to receive ample
reward from your comrades for the services you render
in the Field. We need volunteers to march immediately
and report for duty to the Muster, an assembly of troops
for the purposes of inspection, critique, exercise and
display. Engaging in a collective spirit that aims to
Proclaim rather than Protest we will form a diverse
regiment of our own design.
The place of general rendezvous will be in the heart
of New York Harbor on Governors Island, where troops
have mustered for over two hundred years. Permits have
been secured to assemble on the marching grounds of
Fort Jay, a splendid star-shaped fortification, flanked
by Civil War cannons and framed by spectacular views
of the Statue of Liberty and the majestic Manhattan
skyline. On the 14th day of May 2005, we will gather
under the banner of a polyphonic marshalling of voices,
which come together to form a multi-layered, collective
Cause, a portrait of our community in all its prismatic
Using the American Civil War battle re-enactment as
our aesthetic palette and point of departure, we will
participate in the cultural practice of Living History,
founded on the belief that historical events gain meaning
and relevance when performed live in an open-air, interactive
setting. And in effect, we will create our own unique
historical event, for future re-enactors of the world.
|Let every person
Emblazon your Cause on a self-fashioned uniform. Enact
your own costume drama. Wear your war on your sleeve.
Show off your revolutionary style. Assume a historical
personage. Dress up in soldier drag. Go into total role-playing.
Take your shirt off. Form alliances. Form companies.
Raise a border regiment. Marshal a Middlesex infantry.
Lead a bugle brigade, drum corps, or dance troupe. Cause
a Rebellion, provoke a skirmish, or go AWOL. Use your
art supplies to make new forms of trench art. For, wherever
you place yourself amidst the advances and retreats
of art history, we are making an arsenal, a record,
a form of currency, and a conversation.
Proposals are now being accepted for a volunteer militia
of up to fifty participants, who will build an encampment
and produce, on-site, the contents of a public festivity.
If Enlisted, you will be called upon to Muster into
Action on the installation days of May 10th through
May 13th, 2005, during which time you will pitch your
tent, in the form of an artistic elaboration of the
Cause you are representing at the Muster. There are
already troops in place to assist you with your equipment,
and there will be a Muster ferry service to transport
you by boat onto Governors Island. On the evening of
May 13th, you will be served excellent campaign rations,
and in recognition of your participation in the Muster
you will be ceremoniously welcomed and rewarded with
a respectable cash bounty. That night, we will sleep
under the stars. On the morning of May 14th, you will
register your name on the official Muster Roll and pose
for a traditional portrait, in uniform. At noon, the
general public will be invited to tour the encampment
and participate in whatever activities you deem necessary
to engage spectators in your Cause. This could take
the form of mock-battles, field games, cheerleading
squads, grand processions, quilting bees, performances,
demonstrations, or other colorful displays. The event
will culminate in a formal Declaration of Causes, in
which you will be called by name to an especial platform
erected in your honor, to boldly state your response
to this question:
|What are you
Accept this invitation with the promptitude and pleasure
that has heretofore marked your response to every call
that has been made to you by your friends in need. Conjure
your insurgent grandparents, bra-burning aunts, funny
uncles, and the transrevolutionaries who have paved
the way for your life’s work. Summon your historical
peers and chosen family throughout time, and the Causes
for which they fought and bled. Fly to arms and succor
your brave sisters and brothers already in the field.
|Rally at Once,
before it is too late!
|The Muster Book.|
|On May the 14th, 2005, artist Allison Smith transformed Governors Island--a former U.S. military base located only minutes by ferry from the southern shore of Manhattan--into a stage for an unforgettable work of public art, commissioned by the Public Art Fund. Inspired by American Civil War battle reenactments, the Muster was a "polyphonic marshalling of voices" in which Smith invited artists and non-artists alike to declare a cause and create a campsite-installation in response to her central question: 'What are you fighting for?' Combining celebration, art, craft, history and activism, this earnest and jubilant event embodied the complexities of its political, aesthetic and cultural moment, and is documented here in photographs and texts by Tom Eccles, James Trainor, Anne Wehr, and 'Mustering Officer' Allison Smith." Click here to buy the book on Amazon.com.
Ferry Service for Saturday, May 14th.
to Governors Island:
Island to Manhattan:
| This website
was sponsored by Bellwether
Gallery from 2005 to 2007. Click
here to view Allison Smith's work from 1997 to 2007 on
the Bellwether website.
| SPECIAL THANKS
to the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation
For more information visit www.govisland.com.
Special Thanks are also due to the National Park Service,
on the Governors Island National Memorial is at www.nps.gov/gois.
| ALL PARTICIPIANTS
in The Muster will be photographed on site. Click the
photo above to view the portraits from The Muster 2004.
Muster Sundays - To Be Announced.
Please visit this site for updated postings of events,
locations, and other information.
This event will no longer be held at Fraunces Tavern.
Please visit this site for updated postings of dates,
locations and other information.
Under the auspices of Bellwether gallery, Mustering Officer
Allison Smith will be issuing artfully made rifle-muskets
and sabers March 10th through 14th at the Armory Show,
booth number 92-123.
Here to download the Armory "Call to Arms"
advertisement as a printable pdf document.
Drilling on Governors Island, 1858
York taken from Fort Columbus, 1816
BRIEF HISTORICAL SKETCH.
Lenape Indians settle on island they call “Pagganck”
1524. Giovanni da Verrazzano sights
1609 Henry Hudson explores New York Harbor looking for
a route to the Pacific Ocean.
1624. “Noten Eylant” (“Nutten
Island”) is one of the Dutch West India Company’s
first settlements in the colonial era.
1637 Wouter Van Twiller, Dutch Governor
of New Netherlands, privately acquires the island from
Native American owners, Cakapeteyno and Pehiwas, allegedly
for two axe heads, a string of beads and a few nails.
1664 British take possession of the
island during occupation of New Amsterdam. It remains
rural, housing the Governors’ sheep, cattle and
1698 British officially acquire the
island, thereafter called “Governors Island,”
for the “benefit and accommodation of His Majesty’s
1702 Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, Governor
of New York State and an alleged transvestite, builds
a “splendid” permanent home for the British
governors on high ground.
1732 Governor William Crosby stocks
the island with English pheasants.
1755 The 51st Regiment of Foot is the
first trained unit of soldiers posted on the island.
Later, the unit is joined by the “Royal Americans,”
a British regiment recruited in America.
1776 Continental troops under George
Washington occupy and fortify Governors Island against
British invasion; New York City and Governors Island
fall to the British.
1783 British Royal Navy surrenders
the island to New York State. In addition to three forts,
structures left behind include: a wharf, three wells,
three kitchens, captains’ barracks, lieutenants’
barracks, guard house, gardener’s house, summer
house, convalescent hospital and barn for cattle.
1784-1794 In the New Republic, unused
military facilities fall into disrepair and the island
is leased for a racetrack and summer resort.
1794 Using volunteers from Columbia
College, political clubs and trade guilds, Governor
Clinton organizes construction of new defenses on the
island. A passenger rowboat is licensed. Fare: three
1798 The fort is named after patriot
John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court,
a drafter of the peace treaty with England, and the
only Founding Father born and bred in New York.
1800 New York State cedes the island
to the United States.
1811 Castle Williams, on a point of
land at the edge of the Harbor, is completed and named
after its designer, Jonathan Williams, the first superintendent
of West Point.
1815 Peace Treaty with Britain ending
the War of 1812 is celebrated with fireworks on Governors
1821 Island becomes headquarters of
the Army of the East.
1823 Governors Island is designated
a signal station. Flags announce the arrival of ships
in New York Harbor.
1833 Ordinance Department of the Army
selects Governors Island as a major arsenal, and occupies
1849-1868 Periodic cholera epidemics
sweep the Island.
1852 Ulysses S. Grant resides in the
officers’ quarters known as the Block House.
1852 Governors Island changes from
an artillery post to a recruiting depot.
1861 Steam tugs supplant the oar-powered
barge-ferries to the Island.
1861-1865 During the Civil War, Governors
Island is the central Army recruiting station for the
Eastern Seaboard; Castle Williams is a prison camp,
sometimes holding over 1,000 Confederate soldiers.
1865 Confederate Captain John Yates
Beall is executed on Governors Island for piracy on
1870 Yellow fever epidemic rages on
1878 Island changes from Army fortification
to administrative center.
1895 First squirrels are brought to
1897 Congress proposes a bill to convey
Governors Island to the City of New York “for
the purpose of a public park.” The Army Board
of Engineers, citing the Island’s indispensability
“for military purposes,” soundly rejects
1909 Wilbur Wright takes off from Governors
Island on the first flight ever over American waters,
circling the Statue of Liberty before returning. A few
days later he flies from the island to Grant’s
Tomb and back.
1914-1918 During World War I, the island
is a major supply base and embarkation point.
1918 “World’s shortest
railroad” (a locomotive and three flat cars) is
built to carry coal, machinery and supplies from the
pier to shops and warehouses.
1937-1938 Comedians Tommy and Dick
Smothers are born at the base hospital while their father,
Major Thomas Boyln Smothers, is stationed on the island.
1939-1945 During World War II, the
island is a major administration center and chief reception
center for inductees.
1942 WAC detachment brings the island
its first women soldiers.
1966 U.S. Army leaves Governors Island.
Island converted to a U.S. Coast Guard base, becoming
the largest in the world.
1966-1996 Island’s piers house
six vessels—Coast Guard cutters, tenders and tugs—for
law enforcement, buoy care and ice breaking.
1976 Governors Island hosts 20,000
residents and visitors on Independence Day for fireworks
and a parade of tall ships for America’s Bicentennial.
1988 Diplomatic meetings between Ronald
Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev held at the
1996 Coast Guard leaves Governors Island.
2001 The 22-acre Governors Island National
Monument is established
by presidential proclamation to preserve Fort Jay and
2002 President George W. Bush, Governor
George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announce that
the federal government will sell the island back to
the people of New York for one dollar.
2003 After 200 years, Governors Island
is returned to the people of New York City and State
through the Governors Island Preservation and Education
Corporation. The Governors Island National Monument
transferred to the National Park Service.
ALLISON SMITH, a Brooklyn-based artist, is interested
in the notion of “authentic reproductions”
– a common if oxymoronic phrase describing
contemporary objects or tableaux that conjure historical
aesthetics and episodes. In her sculptures and mixed-media
installations, Smith investigates the ways in which
a simple prop, bridging past and present, can come
to signify more than its appearance suggests. She
creates colonial handcrafts, Civil War memorabilia,
and 19th-century weapons, often arranged to transform
the exhibition space into that of a historic home
or period room.
For the past ten years, Smith has conducted an investigation
of the cultural phenomenon of Civil War reenactment,
or Living History, founded on the belief that historical
events gain meaning and relevance when performed
live in an open-air, interactive setting. Smith
has appropriated the reenactor’s aesthetic
palette to produce sculptural installations that
examine the role craft plays in the construction
of national identity. Over the summer of 2004, Smith
organized a weekend encampment on the Catskills
property of Mark Dion and J. Morgan Puett in which
artists came together to create their own unique
historical event. Emerging from that experience,
the Muster on Governors Island is the most complex
project she has undertaken thus far, broadening
the Civil War metaphor to reflect on current events,
and involving potentially hundreds of participants.
Smith was born in Manassas, Virginia in 1972. She
received a BA in psychology from the New School
for Social Research (1995), a BFA from Parsons School
of Design (1995), and an MFA from Yale University
School of Art (1999). She participated in the Whitney
Museum of American Art Independent Study Program
(1999-2000). Smith has exhibited her work in numerous
venues in the U.S. and abroad, including the U.C. Berkeley
Art Museum MATRIX series (2007); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2007);
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (2006);
Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh (2006); Socrates Sculpture Park,
New York (2006); Arario gallery, South Korea (2006); P.S.1
Contemporary Art Center, New York (2005); and Studio Voltaire,
|Beat! beat! drums! – blow!
Through the windows – through doors –
burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet – no happiness
must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his
field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums –
so shrill you bugles blow.
Beat! beat! drums! – blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities – over the rumble
of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses?
no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers’ bargains by day – no
brokers or speculators – would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his
case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums – you bugles
Beat! beat! drums! – blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley – stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid – mind not the weeper or
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the
Make even the trestle to shake the dead where they
lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums – so
loud you bugles blow.
-- Walt Whitman, 1861