That autumn crisp we've all been waiting for has finally arrived, and you don't need to venture out of the city to make the most of the season! This weekend, join Open House New York for an insider's peek of the secret gymnasium that sits atop Liggett Hall, visit the free exhibits of Nolan Park, or do some leaf peeping in our park. See what's happening below, only three weeks left to visit Governors Island this year!
The Battle for the Ballot *Last weekend* Saturday & Sunday, 12-6 PM, Nolan Park 18 The Battle for the Ballot is the New-York Historical Society's teen-curated exhibition on the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in New York State. Through reproductions of works of art and historic artifacts, visitors learn how the women’s suffrage movement developed. Don't miss this exhibit before it closes after this weekend!
Open House New York Saturday & Sunday, 10 AM-4 PM, Governors Island National Monument & Liggett Hall It's time for Open House New York Weekend's 15th anniversary! Governors Island National Monument is one of almost 50 have participated for 10 or more years, and this year we are adding Liggett Hall - atop the archway of this mammoth building sits a gymnasium!
José Martí Weekend Saturday & Sunday, 11:30 AM-5 PM, Nolan Park 4B Presented by the Empire State Center for the Book, this weekend will celebrate José Martí, one of the greatest writers in the Spanish language and someone whose legacy to the City of New York cannot be underestimated. Free and open to the public, this event includes talks on various aspects of Martí's life in New York.
Sanctuary City Saturday & Sunday, 12-6 PM, Nolan Park 7B Sanctuary City presents We Don't Live Here Anymore, a locative sound journey by UK based artists Melissa Chambers & Candace Thompson. This immersive experience will begin at 2 PM on Saturday. On Sunday, from 12-7 PM, will be Sanctuary City's closing celebration with an explosion of art, music, performance and a reading from the Armory - their six-month long participatory installation on Governors Island.
play:groundNYC's End of Season Celebration Sunday, 12-4 PM, South Battery Join play:groundNYC for an afternoon of play as they celebrate another amazing season on Governors Island! Meet the fantastic team of playworkers and explore the 50,000 sq ft junkyard wonderland. Bring your own picnic, free admission! No rain date - come play one last time - rain or shine!
Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird: A Prehistory of Governors Island Daily through October 31, 10 AM-4:30 PM, Fort Jay National Monument Explore this winding sculptural installation inside the magazine of historic Fort Jay! This work by award winning artist David Brooks digs down to the core of Governors Island, exposing the strata of history of this floating rock in New York Harbor. Save the date for a special artist talk with David Brooks at the Nolan Park Commanding Officers House on Saturday, October 21!
Save the Date!
Pumpkin (Picnic) Point, Saturdays & Sundays, October 21-29, 11 AM-5 PM | More info Night of 1,000 Jack O’Lanterns, Thursday-Sunday, October 26-29, 5-10 PM | More info / Tickets Trick-or-Treating in Nolan Park, Saturday, October 28, 2-4 PM
Become a member in October and get two free months of membership! This month only, become a member and get two free months of membership, including invites to exclusive off-season member events like our Fall Foliage Walk, Holiday Tree Lighting and Spring Member Preview Day! Join now!
The Trust is seeking proposals from restaurateurs and vendors to provide fresh, inventive and sustainable food on Governors Island for up to three years during the six month public season, which runs from May 1-October 31. Proposals for food, coffee and other beverages, including alcohol, are encouraged. More info.
For the first time ever, Governors Island will be staying open to the public for the month of October! We've got plenty of autumn treats in store for this month, plus extended runs of this year's favorite exhibits. This weekend is the last chance to enjoy the HoloCenter's exhibit and Exquisite Corpse performances. Read more for what's in store this week as well as some spooky October announcements!
Save the Date: Picnic Point is Pumpkin Point this October! Weekends October 21-29, 11AM-5PM, Pumpkin (Picnic) Point Just in time for Halloween, we’re transforming Picnic Point into our first ever pumpkin patch within view of Lady Liberty! Wander past the autumn colored Hills to Pumpkin Point where you’ll be able to pick (or just snap pics) from thousands of pumpkins, sip cider and snack on ghoulish treats from Little Eva’s. We’ll even have a spooky hayride to take pumpkin pickers back to the ferry!
IRIDESCENCE Friday 2-4 PM, Saturday-Monday, 11 AM-5 PM, Colonels Row 403 The Holocenter's exhibit includes six artists selected through an international competition, their works on display sculpted with light explore how memory, motion and images entwine. This weekend (including Monday!) will be the last days the exhibit will be on view, don't miss it!
A Ribbon About a Bomb Friday 3 PM, Saturday-Sunday 2 & 4 PM, Colonels Row 407B Exquisite Corpse Company invites you to a wedding... or perhaps the funeral... Jump to the surreal world of A Ribbon About a Bomb as you cycle and muse on with Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington through the abandoned halls of a mansion. Don't miss the last three dates for this immersive performance.
Escaping Time: Art from U.S. Prisons Saturday-Sunday, 12-5 PM, Nolan Park 6A Escaping Time features over 200 works of art created by inmates within prison walls and is on view every weekend in October. Their artwork acts a vehicle to demonstrate the mental captivity inmates experience during their imprisonment. The exhibit aims to bring attention to the effects of mass incarceration.
Save the Date: The Hunt on Governors Island Saturday, October 21, 12-4 PM, Islandwide, meet at Nolan Park Join Urban Archive for a historical scavenger hunt on Governors Island! Come out and learn about the rich history of the Island as you walk through our Historic District. The event begins in Nolan Park with a round of cider, followed by the hunt. Prizes will be awarded to the first three teams to make it back to Nolan Park after finding all the photos!
Friends of Governors Island Gala Thanks for your support! Last week the Friends of Governors Island hosted their annual Gala, which honored the six leaders who helped transform the Island into a spectacular public space. Hosted on Governors Island and attended by over 500 guests, it was our largest fundraising event to date! Funds raised at the Gala will go toward ensuring Governors Island remains a vibrant shared space for all. See photos and watch the special tribute video.
Become a member in October and get two free months of membership! This month only, become a member and get two free months of membership, including invites to exclusive off-season member events like our Fall Foliage Walk, Holiday Tree Lighting and Spring Member Preview Day! Join now!
The leaves are falling and the colors are changing! As September comes to a close, so do some of our exhibits. Don't miss the closing weekend of the 4heads Governors Island Art Fair, the Sculptor's Alliance, the Police Museum and our goats at Earth Matter's Compost Learning Center. Take a look below for what's going on, and stay tuned for more October happenings!
4heads Governors Island Art Fair, Saturday & Sunday, 10 AM-6 PM, Colonels Row & Liggett Hall *Last weekend!* This weekend is your last chance to check out 4heads Governors Island Art Fair! Over 100 artists have transformed the former military homes of Colonels Row and the Island's iconic Liggett Hall. Pictured above is work by sculptor Norman Mooney.
Governors Island Oktoberfest, Saturday, 12-5 PM, Colonels Row Governors Island Beer Co. is proud to host the first ever Oktoberfest on Governors Island this Saturday. Don your bavarian garb and enjoy a mug holding contest, traditional Bavarian food, entertainment and more! Radeberger and Braufactum Progusta will be available for purchase.
Peas and Carrots head back to Goodale Farms, Saturday & Sunday, 12-1 PM, Earth Matter Compost Learning Center, Urban Farm Each year our friends at Earth Matter bring two visiting goats to live in our Urban Farm! Peas and Carrots (with chickens and other animals!) contribute to the composting process by consuming New Yorkers' vegetable scraps. After this weekend, they will return to Goodale Farms. Join us in bidding them farewell, and learn how Compost is made for the last weekend of the season.
Vintage Police Car Show, Saturday, 10 AM-6 PM, Pershing Hall parking lot *Last weekend for the Police Museum exhibits!* The New York City Police Museum is excited to announce the Annual Vintage Police Car Show for its' final weekend on Governors Island! Over 20 vehicles from as early as the 1950s will make their way to Governors Island this Saturday. The Museum will also be selling selected items from the gift shop.
Sculptor's Alliance: Metal, Friday-Sunday, 11 AM-5 PM, Nolan Park 7B *Last weekend!* Come explore the last weekend of the Sculptor's Alliance's show Metal! This exhibit features a range of 3D concepts and forms of expressive sculpture, with each piece made entirely of metal or incorporating metal. Closing reception on Sunday from 2-5 PM.
Night of 1,000 Jack O’Lanterns, Thursday-Sunday, October 26-29, Colonels Row We are ready to light up New York Harbor this October! Come see more than 1,000 illuminated jack o’lanterns carved by artists, live carving demonstrations, and take home your own pumpkin at this truly unique jack o’lantern jaunt here on Governors Island. Tickets available here
Performances This Weekend
Exquisite Corpse Company invites you to a wedding... or perhaps the funeral... Jump to the surreal world of A Ribbon About a Bomb as you cycle and muse on with Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington through the abandoned halls of a mansion. Tickets available here. Fridays 3 PM, Saturdays & Sundays 2 & 4 PM, Colonels Row 407B
The Rising Sun Performance Company presents Laboratorium: a 12 Week Multi-Purpose Theatrical Artist Retreat & Residency. Each week a different playwright and/or director to will develop new play scripts and works in progress as well as site specific devised works! Saturdays & Sundays beginning at 12 PM, Nolan Park 11
When the world is mad, does embracing madness make you sane? Created by the Dysfunctional Collective this summer on Governors Island, The Bacchae is a freely adapted, feminist take on Euripides' tragedy. Performances are approximately 30 minutes long and may be too intense for young children. Saturday & Sunday, 2:30 & 4:30 PM, Nolan Park 8B
Come watch - or participate in! - the premier of Aquatopia, a participatory performance as part of Pratt's Blue Week 2017. Musicians, students, and community members collaborate and explore together seawalls, oceanic thinking, and ecological reimagining of formerly deluged sites in light of rising seas. Saturday 2 PM, The Scramble at the Hills
Friday marks the autumnal equinox, and there's no better time to stroll the tree-lined paths of Governors Island. Don't miss Open Studios and Kameelah Janan Rasheed's A Supple Perimeter during the LMCC Arts Center's last weekend of the season, plus polo, plenty of theater and more! And stay tuned next week as we announce some exciting October tricks and treats...
Open Studios with Process Space and Extended Life Artists-in-Residence, Saturday & Sunday, 1-6 PM, LMCC Arts Center Building 110 During this free, weekend-long event, artists open their studio doors to the public, offering a unique, behind-the-scenes window into their creative practices in the visual, literary, and performing arts. Come out and talk with the artists and gain insight into their creative processes! This will also be the final weekend to visit the summer exhibition, A Supple Perimeter, by artist, educator and writer Kameelah Janan Rasheed.
Victory Cup Polo Match, Saturday, 10 AM-6 PM, Play Lawn The Victory Cup is not your average polo match! Join to watch the games and enjoy tastings from local chefs, restaurants, farms, vineyards, distilleries and breweries from New York City. Guests will enjoy taking in the majesty of the horses and the thrill of heart pounding polo! Tickets available here.
African Film Festival Inc.’s Family Day Celebration, Sunday, 11 AM-5 PM, Colonels Row Come out for an enchanting day of free music, film, and dance at African Film Festival Inc.’s Family Day Celebration! Fun-seeking individuals of all ages are invited to join for a day of story-telling, double-dutch, dance and drum, needlepoint and short films — all celebrating Africa and the diaspora.
Courage, Friday-Sunday, 2 PM, Castle Williams Parking Lot NACL’s Courage will have its New York City premiere on Governors Island this weekend! This spectacular performance, set in an imagined refugee camp and unfolding as a walking journey, is inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s anti-war play, “Mother Courage and Her Children,” written in 1939 Fascist Germany, and advocates for compassion in an era of fear and war. A limited number of tickets are available via Indigogo.
Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird: a Prehistory of Governors Island, Daily, 10 AM-4:30 PM, Fort Jay Explore this winding sculptural installation inside the magazine of historic Fort Jay! This work by award winning artist David Brooks digs down to the core of Governors Island, exposing the strata of history of this floating rock in NY Harbor. Free and open to the public, this installation is open every day until October 31.
Brave New World Repertory Theatre presents The Plantation: a bold new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, set in 1870 Virginia after emancipation, but before the onset of Jim Crow. Chekhov’s Russian serfs become American freed men and women in this immersive and emotionally charged production. September 23-25, Saturday-Monday, 1:30 PM at the Commanding Officer's House, Nolan Park.*Final performances!*Free seats available on a first come, first served basis.
When the world is mad, does embracing madness make you sane? Created by the Dysfunctional Collective this summer on Governors Island, The Bacchae is a freely adapted, feminist take on Euripides' tragedy. Performances are approximately 30 minutes long and may be too intense for young children.
September 23-24, Saturday & Sunday, 2:30 & 4:30 PM in Nolan Park 8B
Exquisite Corpse Company invites you to a wedding... or perhaps the funeral... Jump to the surreal world of A Ribbon About a Bomb as you cycle and muse on with Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington through the abandoned halls of a mansion. Tickets available here.
Fridays 3 PM, Saturdays & Sundays 2 & 4 PM through October 15 in Colonels Row 407B
Save the Date!
Thursday-Sunday, October 26-29:Night of 1,000 Jack O’Lanterns is ready to light up New York Harbor this October! Come see more than 1,000 illuminated jack o’lanterns carved by artists, live carving demonstrations, and take home your own pumpkin at this truly unique jack o’lantern jaunt here on Governors Island. Tickets available here.
It's heating back up this weekend and there's lots to do on Governors Island. Did you know this year marks the World War I centennial? Commemorate with Camp Doughboy all weekend long! Take a look below for more events and exhibitions coming up.
New York Harbor Regatta Bash, Friday, September 15, 5-9 PM, Island Oyster Come to the New York Harbor Regatta Bash and support the New York Harbor School and Billion Oyster Project tomorrow evening! A day spent sailing on the water of the iconic harbor and waterways, followed by a festive bash on historic Governors Island, is now an NYC tradition—for sailing enthusiasts and the community alike—to close the summer sailing season and to open the fall school year. Tickets available here.
WWI History Weekend, Saturday & Sunday, 10 AM-5 PM, Governors Island National Monument Come see dozens of reenactors in vintage uniforms, both men and women, and learn the history of the Great War at this free two day event commemorating the WWI centennial. There will be vintage Army vehicles, ambulances, equipment displays, a tent encampment, author talks, and demonstrations. All ages welcome! Full schedule here.
We are All Tourists, Saturday at 11:30 AM, 12 PM, 2:30 PM & 3 PM, meet at Colonels Row House 410A Trusty Sidekick Theater Company presents an outdoor promenade theatrical tour experience for young people ages 8+ and their families. Alpha and Scout are searching for their friend and colleague, Lou. Could she be stuck in an alternate reality? Explore the breathtaking views and solve the clues to reunite these reality hoppers. Hailed by The New York Times for “blur[ring] the boundaries between the imagined and the real”! Tickets available here.
Victory Cup Polo Match, Saturday, September 23, 11 AM-7 PM, Play Lawn The Victory Cup next weekend is not your average polo match! The event will also include dozens of local chefs, restaurants, farms and local vineyards, distilleries and breweries from New York City and beyond providing tastings at the event. Guests will enjoy taking in the majesty of the horses and the thrill of heart pounding polo! Tickets available here.
The 4heads' 10th anniversary Governors Island Art Fair continues their tradition of providing a platform for young, emerging, and underrepresented artists with over 100 artists featured in this month-long event. Works range from painting, photography, sculpture, video to immersive installations!
On view: Saturdays & Sundays, 12-5 PM through October 1 in Colonels Row and Liggett Hall
Explore Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird: A Prehistory of Governors Island, a winding sculptural installation inside the magazine of historic Fort Jay. This work by award winning artist David Brooks digs down to the core of Governors Island, exposing the strata of history of this floating rock in NY Harbor.
On view: Daily from 10 AM-4:30 PM through October 31 in Fort Jay
*Special artist-led members tour of Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird: Sunday, September 17 at 11:30AM* Members are invited to join us for an artist-led tour of the exhibit. On this exclusive tour, award winning artist David Brooks will lead you through one of the excavation sites as well as the exhibit, and discuss his interest in the geologic history that shaped Governors Island as we know it today. Learn more and RSVP.
Not a member? Join today!
The Dysfunctional Collective brings you The Benefits of Contemplating Death, a multi-platform art piece focusing on embracing death to live a more fulfilling life. Come see photographs embodying the loss of identity and universal interconnectedness experienced around death, an underworld photobooth, and an interactive art piece designed to give people a safe space to share their experiences around death and grief.
On view: Saturdays & Sundays, 12-5 PM through October 1 in Nolan Park House 8B
New Yorkers may be getting back to their routines, but there's still plenty of time to enjoy late summer fun on Governors Island! Wind down from your busy week and join us for our last GovIsland After Hours this Friday night. There are plenty of activities, exhibits and more to look forward to this weekend and into the fall - read more for the latest!
GovIsland After Hours, Friday, September 8, 6-10 PM, Islandwide Take advantage of this week's perfect weather and join us for the last chance to experience the sunset from Governors Island this season! We'll be staying open until 10PM with Island Oyster, Little Eva's and Governors Island Beer Co. providing the food and libations. Ferries run from Manhattan at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 PM.
3-D Art with Metal, Friday-Sunday, 11 AM-5 PM, Nolan Park House 7B The Sculptor's Alliance presents 3-D Art with Metal, an exhibit exploring a range of 3D concepts and forms of sculpture using the medium metal. Open weekends throughout September with an opening reception Saturday, September 9, from 2-5 PM.
Marx Brothers Weekend, Saturday & Sunday, 12-5 PM, Nolan Park House 4B Head to the Empire State Center for the Book this weekend to hang out with bunch of Marx Brothers fans, the Marxfest Committee and members of the cast of I'll Say She Is: The Lost Marx Brothers Musical. Events will include a walk-through exhibit; Marx-minded talks, discussions, readings, screenings and music!
The Audubon Society, Daily, 10:30 AM-5:30 PM, Nolan Park House 17 The Audubon Society of NYC recently opened an immersive group art show, Tableaux Vivants - including winning photographs from the 2016 Audubon Photography Awards. Looking to learn more about the Island's bird population? Meet at House 17 on Saturdays and Sundays at 2PM for bird walks!
Teaching Garden, Saturdays & Sundays, 12-4 PM, Urban Farm Did you know that GrowNYC's Teaching Garden on the Island features over 20 vegetable beds, fruit trees, a solar cooking garden and more in a 1/2 acre small-scale farm? Open to the public on weekends, the garden aims to engage, excite and educate visitors in all aspects of the art of urban farming. Come out and learn!
Saturday, September 23: The Victory Cup Polo Match is not just a polo match! Dozens of local chefs, restaurants, farms and local vineyards, distilleries and breweries from New York City and beyond will be providing tastings at the event. Guests will enjoy taking in the majesty of the horses and the thrill of heart pounding polo! Tickets available here.
Thursday-Sunday, October 26-29: Night of 1,000 Jack O’Lanterns is ready to light up New York Harbor this October! Come see more than 1,000 illuminated jack o’lanterns carved by artists, live carving demonstrations, and take home your own pumpkin at this truly unique jack o’lantern jaunt here on Governors Island. Tickets available here.
On September 26th, the Friends of Governors Island is hosting its annual Gala. This year’s event honors the six extraordinary women who led the development of the Island’s new 40-acre park. Adding to the specialness of the occasion, the Gala will be held after-hours on Governors Island! A limited number of tickets remain available.
The transformation of Governors Island from an abandoned military base to a vibrant destination enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year could not have happened without the hard work and dedication of these six pioneering leaders:
Former First Deputy Mayor, Patti Harris
Past Board Chair of the Trust for Governors Island, Ronay Menschel
Past Trust President, Leslie Koch
Past Trust Board Member, Wendy Schmidt
Past Trust Vice President for Planning Design and Construction, Ellen Cavanagh
Past Trust Vice President for Planning and Design, Betty Chen
Powerfully forging partnerships between government and philanthropy, these individuals led the planning, construction and fundraising efforts to create the new park. Their work culminated in July 2016 with the opening of the Hills, an audacious feat of engineering and design that was delivered under budget and nearly one year ahead of schedule.
The design of the new park focuses on sustainability and resilience, while amplifying Governors Island’s spirit of adventure and discovery. What was once abandoned landfill on the Island’s southern end is now beautiful rolling landscapes and pathways filled with visitors biking, lounging and playing. A lively plaza boasts outdoor cafés, hedge mazes and play fountains. The ever-popular Hammock Grove welcomes visitors to catch the breeze amid a growing young forest. And rising up to 70 feet, the Hills offer the longest slide in New York City, a permanent art installation, and 360-degree views of the New York Harbor.
Now enjoyed by more than 600,000 visitors annually, Governors Island’s new landscapes were designed to thrive for centuries. This transformation would not have been possible without the combined efforts of our six honorees. We hope you will join us in celebrating their accomplishments and toasting to one of New York City’s most unique public spaces!
Proceeds from the 2017 Gala will support the Friends of Governors Island. A core tenet of the Friends’ mission is to further the Island’s sustainability and steward its green spaces. Funds raised from the Gala will help care for the more than 2,300 trees and 50,000 shrubs in the new park. Additionally, the proceeds will support the Friends’ efforts to improve the visitor experience, create more public programs, and extend outreach efforts across the entire city.
Sticking in town this Labor Day Weekend? Make the most of your staycation with an escape to Governors Island! Pack a picnic and head for the Hills (don't miss the after hours views this Friday), explore the work of over 100 artists at the 4heads' 10th Annual Governors Island Art Fair and more. And don't let the end of summer blues get you down - we're open until October 31 this year!
GovIsland After Hours, Friday, September 1 & 8, 6-10 PM, Islandwide There are only two chances left to experience late nights on Governors Island this season! Join us tomorrow evening until 10 PM to enjoy cocktails, food and the most spectacular spot to view the city skylines. The HoloCenter will also be open with a reception for their newest exhibit, IRIDESCENCE, from 6-9 PM. Ferries run from Manhattan at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 PM.
4heads Governors Island Art Fair, Weekends in September, 10 AM-6 PM, Colonels Row 4heads celebrates its 10th anniversary on the Island, continuing its tradition of providing a platform for emerging artists. From painting, photography, and sculpture to video and immersive installations works from 100 artists will enliven Colonels Row and, for the first time, Liggett Hall.
NYC Unicycle Festival, Saturday & Sunday, 12-5 PM, Colonels Row The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus brings the 8th Annual NYC Unicycle Festival to Governors Island! Activities include races, competitions, exhibitions, and a variety of unicycle sports. World-famous riders display their skills, and members of the public have the opportunity to try one-wheel riding in the learn-to-ride area.
The Plantation, Fridays-Sundays, 1:30 PM, Commanding Officer's House, Nolan Park Brave New World Repertory Theatre presents The Plantation: a bold new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, set in 1870 Virginia after emancipation, but before the onset of Jim Crow. Chekhov’s Russian serfs become American freed men and women in this immersive and emotionally charged production. Performances every weekend throughout September at 1:30 PM. Tickets available here.
IRIDESCENCE, Weekends, 12 PM-5 PM, Nolan Park House 8B The Holocenter presents six artists selected through an international competition, their works on display sculpting with light explore how memory, motion and images entwine. Special opening reception this Friday September 1 from 6-9 PM (during our After Hours!), and artist talks and tours September 2, 2-4 PM. On view throughout September & October.
Artist Talk at A.I.R. Gallery; TAKE BACK YOUR BODY, Monday, September 4, 3 PM, Nolan Park House 4A As part of the A.I.R.'s exhibition, Who Cares?, artist and fashion researcher Daria Dorosh - her 1990s work in public art on view - will discuss how and why her interest has migrated from public spaces to the body as the site for art. Who Cares? is free and open to the public weekends until September 29.
More Art on GI! Explore Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird: A Prehistory of Governors Island, a winding sculptural installation inside the magazine of historic Fort Jay. This new work by award winning artist David Brooks digs down to the core of Governors Island, exposing the strata of history of this floating rock in NY Harbor. On view daily from 10 AM-4:30 PM through October 31, 2017.
‘Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird: A Prehistory of Governors Island’ by artist David Brooks to be unveiled in historic Fort Jay
Installation will be open to visitors every day from August 19-October 31
David Brooks’ Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird digs down to the core of the place we now call Governors Island, exposing the strata of history of this floating rock at the entrance of NY Harbor– layers stretching down to a foundation of Manhattan Schist that predates complex life on earth. Probing three sites on the northern side of the original footprint of the Island, Brooks bored through the ground surface to a range of 90 to 125 feet in depth, telling a story of this ancient place in cobbles, soil, silt, shells, clay and bedrock. This excavated narrative utilizing core samples of the grounds leads visitors beyond the dominant military history of the site, to imagine a landmass that for millions of years played a part in a larger strategic operation – the origin of land and life itself.
“The story of Governors Island is one of many layers, and our art program translates and reveals the myriad connections the Island has to the history of New York, this country, and the animals and people that have inhabited the region,” said Meredith Johnson, Vice President, Art and Culture of the Trust for Governors Island. “David Brooks’ new site specific work Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird starts at the very beginning, pre-dating the human history of this place and weaving a story from the very strands of magma that formed the landmass we now know as the archipelago of New York Harbor. This project is in many ways a first act in the epic novel that is Governors Island, told through art and the voice of the artist.”
From August 19 to October 31, 2017, visitors to Governors Island can enter the subterranean magazine of historic Fort Jay to find Brooks’ winding sculpture. Three long continuous rock core samples are assembled in contrasting trajectories referencing slow time (the creation of bedrock) and fast time (the flight of a mosquito and hummingbird), the piece engages the visitor with a series of objects one must navigate through, around, and under – much like time itself.
Accompanying the installation are a series of bronze markers around the Island, at the sites of Brooks’ rock core extractions. In July of 2017, core samples were taken from three locations on the historic north side of the Island by a rotosonic drill that bored through the ground surface to depths of 90 to 125 feet. A core sample is a cylindrical section of earth obtained by drilling into the ground with a hollow steel tube called a “core drill.” The earliest core drills were used by the ancient Egyptians in 3000 BC to build the pyramids. Brooks’ drill sites on Governors Island, moments of penetration into the earth, propose a glimpse into a hole of deep time that is intimately linked to the creatures that still call this place a hunting, fishing, and nesting ground.
“Governors Island is a place that intersects so succinctly with my own interests, but in a not so obvious way,” said David Brooks. “It’s not its military, colonial or civilian history that I’m interested in highlighting, but rather a much bigger picture of its natural history. The Island itself, its nonhuman inhabitants, and the manmade structures that dot the Island all owe their existence to a turbulent geologic history that gives us a much more dramatic and visceral understanding of what makes it so unique.”
Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird is the first work commissioned directly by the Trust since 2014, and is the first work by David Brooks on Governors Island. The recipient of several prestigious awards, including a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, Brooks creates works that consider the relationship between the individual and the built and natural environment. Major commissions include the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, CT, MOMA/PS1, NY, Storm King Art Center, NY, de Cordova Museum, MA and Cass Sculpture Foundation, UK, as well as Desert Rooftops in Times Square, a 5,000-square foot urban earthwork commissioned by Art Production Fund. Brooks currently lives and works between New York City and New Orleans.
“Governors Island offers a one of a kind opportunity for artists to expand their audience and create memorable public art tied to the rich history of this special place,” said Michael Samuelian, president of the Trust for Governors Island. “With the extension of our public season through the end of October, New Yorkers will have even more opportunities to enjoy our first art commission this year, and many other cultural, food and recreational experiences during the fall.”
Through site specific commissions and its signature OpenHouseGI Program, Governors Island has a history of engaging the public through free public art and programming. Previous commissions on Governors Island include Cabin by Rachel Whiteread, a permanent, site specific concrete cast of a New England-style wood shed at Discovery Hill, as well as long-term temporary installations by Mark Handforth and Susan Phillipsz. Rock, Mosquito and Hummingbird is the first work on Governors Island curated by Meredith Johnson, the Trust’s Vice President for Art and Culture.
This year’s commission was made possible through private donations to the Trust’s ArtCommissionsGI program. The commission was produced in collaboration with the National Parks Service.