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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Muster

Last Saturday couldn't have been a more lovely day to spend outside. So instead of heading uptown to look at fabric (thank goodness!), the wife, kid, and I headed downtown and caught the Governors Island Ferry to participate in Allison Smith's performance/happening/public art installation, The Muster.

It was the strangest, craziest, most polyphonic (and most fun) art event I've been to in ages.

Yesterday's Times piece on the event gives a good sense of what the afternoon was like. Each of the fifty participating artists or groups defined the cause they were fighting for. This pretty much sums up the event and the cognitive space that visitors were moved into as they entered the bivouac field:
Across the way, students from the Rhode Island School of Design, under the direction of Liz Collins, a professor, put up a tent filled with knitting machines, where they cranked out a huge abstract red-white-and-blue cotton banner during the afternoon. Julia Bryan-Wilson, another professor, said that earlier in the day, the knitters were approached by a man who had come to the island thinking there was going to be a real Civil War re-enactment. "He was just really confused," she said. "When I said that we were fighting for a sovereign nation of knitters, he didn't like that at all."
The afternoon included a special "Declaration of Causes," where Smith called the roll and asked each participant, "What are you fighting for?" The answers ranged from "the right to be scared," to "the right to sing sentimental songs in full," to "a return to chivalrous battle techniques and the preservation of historical methods of warfare," to "peace and cheaper lift tickets," to "sequined religious figures."

This muster may not have been the "weekend of alcohol fueled lesbianity" that Smith's last one was, but it was memorable nonetheless. It also started discussion among the family unit about what causes we are fighting for. Mrs. FtF and her blistered feet are fighting for cute but comfortable shoes. The kid is fighting for dry diapers. As for me, I'm fighting for an end to the tyranny of sleep deprivation imposed by babies.

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