Rock, Mos­qui­to and Hum­ming­bird to be unveiled in his­toric Fort Jay

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.