Chap­ter One of The Amer­i­can Man­i­fest” Open Now in Times Square


Photo by Michael Hull for Times Square Arts

In July 2022, Gov­er­nors Island Arts, Times Square Arts, and Cre­ative Time joint­ly announced the first pub­lic art exhi­bi­tion by Charles Gaines, The Amer­i­can Man­i­fest. This sweep­ing instal­la­tion will take place in three parts in three dif­fer­ent loca­tions over the course of three years — ­­Times Square, Gov­er­nors Island, and Cincinnati.

Chap­ter One debuted on July 13 in Times Square with two per­for­mances of Gaines’ Man­i­festos 4: The Dred and Har­ri­et Scott Deci­sion. The per­for­mance was a musi­cal inter­pre­ta­tion of the orig­i­nal text of the 1857 U.S. Supreme Court case of Dred Scott vs. San­ford, and was per­formed with a wood­wind quin­tet, piano, and tenor. The per­for­mance built upon the artist’s Man­i­festos series, in which Gaines dis­arms and draws upon his­tor­i­cal texts, unit­ing the ratio­nal, math­e­mat­i­cal, and lyri­cal struc­tures of music with the irra­tional­i­ty of vio­lence, racial ten­sions, and social injustice. 

Read the text fea­tured in the per­for­mance here, and read the full speech by Fred­er­ick Dou­glass in response to the deci­sion — which was sung by tenor Dar­i­an Clonts as the final part of each per­for­mance—here.

Roots, Chap­ter One’s sculp­tur­al instal­la­tion, also opened on July 13, and will be on view in Times Square through Sep­tem­ber 23. It fea­tures sev­en paint­ed Amer­i­can Sweet­gum trees, which his­tor­i­cal­ly grew in what is now Times Square, with their roots up to give the piece a sur­re­al and dystopi­an feel. 

Look­ing ahead, Chap­ter Two of The Amer­i­can Man­i­fest will come to Gov­er­nors Island in Octo­ber 2022. Locat­ed at the base of Out­look Hill, Mov­ing Chains will fea­ture a large kinet­ic sculp­ture instal­la­tion com­posed of nine chains. Eight of the chains will be move at the pace of New York Harbor’s cur­rents, while the ninth will move at the speed of the many ships that have passed through the har­bor through­out his­to­ry. Mov­ing Chains illu­mi­nates the exchange of peo­ple, cap­i­tal, and goods cycling between the north and south that made up the slave trade, while call­ing atten­tion to the polit­i­cal, judi­cial, and eco­nom­ic oper­a­tions estab­lished in this country’s foun­da­tion­al finan­cial sys­tem. Chap­ter Two will also include free pub­lic pro­gram­ming on Gov­er­nors Island relat­ed to the piece, stay tuned for announce­ments and updates. 

Click here to learn more about The Amer­i­can Man­i­fest.