Date/Time: 19/05/2004 12:00 am
NY Public Archive @ The Drawing Center (NYC,NY)
June 16 – July 24
We will be part of an exhibition at The Drawing Center in NYC in June called PlayPen. The folks at the space have been very kind in offering us a whole room to ourselves. The Drawing Room is located at 40 Wooster st., just across the street from the Drawing Center. This is where we will house our new project, NY Public Archive. The following text explains a little bit about what we’ll be up to. If you happen to be in NY within that time period please do stop by and add your voice to the archive.
Make Your Mark; NY Public Archive
The five boroughs of New York City are home to tens of thousands of cultures. Through national origin, political leanings, class, race, gender groups and more, nearly every issue or concern has a potential voice somewhere within the life of New York. Like possibly no other city in the world it is filled with stories around every corner. A cliche, true, but an accurate one.
Much of America’s history begins in New York City. Sam’s family, on both his Mother and his Father’s side, arrived at the turn of the last century. Khris’s Great Great Grandfather arrived in New York Harbor a few generations early as a Hessian mercenary commissioned to fight for the British. These people are still here today through bits and pieces of their history known to their families. Working as a Shakespearian actor in the Yiddish Theatre on the Lower East Side, becoming a Police Officer and having to fish bodies out of the East River, and then telling your daughter about it at the dinner table, losing a leg to a cannonball and deciding that maybe this war wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Without these fragments of history what would be left of these people? What would we have to learn from as their sons, daughters, and grandchildren?
Apart from oral histories the written form serves as the most direct line for most people to the people, places, and incidents of the past. Be that the histories of families, neighborhoods, cities, or movements. A true democracy requires this knowledge. A true democracy requires access to this knowledge and involvement with it. The experience and exchange of our own unique voice in relation to the countless other unique voices of a country make the time and the place.
During Communist rule of Eastern Europe, from the Ukraine to East Germany, Samizdat served as an underground outlet for the voiceless. Characterized by handmade books, or photocopied multiples of artists and activists work it served as a means for the distribution of ideas, thoughts, and concerns, on paper. Passed from hand to hand Samizdat worked as a chorus of multiple voices for countries whose government intended for only one voice. At this moment in the history of America, what with the current political administration and suppression of ideas through media monopolization, the individual voice is growing fainter and fainter by the minute.
The summer of 2004 brings the presidential election season into full swing, and it hits the ground running with the Republican National Convention being held in NYC from August 29 – September 2. In the spirit of Samizdat, and as an exercise to show the people of New York that they have a voice, both lasting and important, Red76 will being work on the NY PUBLIC ARCHIVE to be generated and housed at NYC’s Drawing Center. Getting the word out far and wide about the project through the use of wheat pasted postering, postcards, radio, online community message boards, cocktail napkins, classified ad’s, printed matchbooks, and more, Red76, through the NY PUBLIC ARCHIVE, will encourage New York to make its mark. The campaign will encourage people to come to the Drawing Center’s Drawing Room to recount what they are seeing in their lives for the summer of 2004 on paper. Street scenes, marital joys and woes, toddlers first steps, police misdoing’s, all will be added to this solely public archive from pen to paper.
In the late 1940’s Jack Kerouac’s friend Ed White, an architect, encouraged him to “sketch his stories”. Kerouac used this to the fullest, walking the city streets and sketching the scenes he saw from the Brooklyn Bridge on Benzedrine at night, to Merchant Sailor’s at the NY docks about to ship off to sea. As a literary technique Kerouac said that these sketches made the written word correspond like pencil strokes to what the mind perceived. Notes, doodles, and the written word are the general public’s closest association to drawing. With the NY PUBLIC ARCHIVE Red76 will encourage the public to draw out what they are seeing on the summer streets of NY and, hopefully, help serve as the first steps in a cure for over three years of cultural laryngitis.
At the end of the archives time at the Drawing Center Red76 will compile a book to be donated to NY historical and community groups. The whole of the NY PUBLIC ARCHIVE will be donated to the NY Public Library to be on view as a time capsule of a people, time, and place for anyone who wishes to see, feel, and experience it.
Well, that’s about it for now.