Floating in the Long Island Sound not far from City Island in the Bronx, Hart Island is the largest cemetery in the United States and has been New York City’s potter’s field for more than 150 years. Some 850,000 people have been buried there in unmarked mass graves, including the poor, the anonymous, and infants of parents without the means for a more dignified funeral. The island and its inhabitants exist in a cartographic and administrative limbo that has made the site virtually illegal to visit and the exact locations of individual graves nearly impossible to determine.
On September 7-9, 2012, the Glass Bees participated in a collaboration with The Hart Island Project a nonprofit foundation that was created to spread awareness of the cemetery and its troubled history, to remember the people buried there, and to help reconnect families with loved ones who found their final resting places on the island. After consulting the Hart Island burial records, we selected and visited several “unique places of death,” locations around Brooklyn that witnessed the death of people now buried on Hart Island.
At these locations we made paintings, gathered sounds, took photographs, and collected quotidian objects, all of which became raw material for an installation at the Bogart Salon, a gallery at 56 Bogart Street in Bushwick. The installation was created as part of Citydrift, a three-day festival organized to encourage exploration and engagement of the urban environment, and remained the gallery until September 16, 2012.