Governors Island: PLOT '09
“I have an affection for a great city. I feel safe in the neighborhood of man, and enjoy the sweet security of the streets.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Most New Yorkers will agree that summertime in the city is so relaxed. Residents are often able to enjoy the city’s beautiful landscapes—either through nature or urban scenes—while neighbors are away on weekends.At times, I prefer to do things not requiring overt coordination, and I usually go with the flow on weekends at home.
Closely situated from where I live, but easily ignored as a place to appreciate history and the potential for its inspirational characteristics is Governors Island. It was a perfect Saturday in July when I decided to embark on my virgin tour to the island. Coincidentally, I was able to hit two birds with one stone: Governors Island itself, as well and the featured event, "PLOT/09: Thiw World & Nearer Ones," a public art exhibition.
Governors Island comprises 172 green acres off the southern tip of Manhattan. Only 800 yards, or roughly a free five-minute ferry ride from Manhattan, the island is amazingly close and accessible for New Yorkers. Although, however close, I felt odd being what seemed far away from Manhattan. Perhaps, it was due to the fact that I don’t often take the ferries and it felt like a journey. Another factor could be that the atmosphere there is so much more like colonial New England than modern-day New York.
Mostly, Governors Island was used as a military base—alternately between Great Britain and the United States in the beginning, and then long term by the U.S. starting in 1800. Largely, the island was a residential community as well as, a base for the coast guard, which was in use for over 30 years. In 2001, President Clinton designated 22 acres of the island as a national monument, and the following year, President George W. Bush symbolically sold the remainder of the island to the city of New York for $1.
“PLOT/09: This World & Nearer Ones” is the first exhibitions of its kind by New York nonprofit Creative Time. “We are thrilled to give New Yorkers and visitors to the city a major project that will be free and open to all,” says Anne Pasternak, president and artistic director of Creative Time. “PLOT will be a timeless investigation of ideas and site on a grand scale.”
This exhibition intervenes in the architectural and natural fabric of the island, transforming its historic buildings and vast lawns—from the iconic Fort Jay to St. Cornelius Chapel—through installation, performance, video, and auditory works, inviting us to reconsider the island’s past and future. The public art is being displayed throughout the summer, and I definitely recommend seeing it.
Photos by D.B. Kim.