Project Proposal

For the 2006 Peekskill Project we would like to stage a singing school performance of our Subliminal History of New York State on the shuttle busses ferrying visitors to Peekskill around the city. Our performance will explore Peekskill's role in a larger narrative we are developing about New York's subliminal history, and will draw bus riders into a participatory singing school mixing theater, storytelling, and singing instruction in a musical form from New York's past.

Subliminal History of New York State is a project to unearth and disseminate New York's hidden history. Embracing subjective sources of historical information (folklore, gossip, land reading) alongside geology and the historical record, a larger story of New York begins to form. Our subliminal history merges past and present and treats geographical features as powerful beings capable of manipulating New York's human inhabitants.

Our subliminal history begins with the discovery that Roosevelt Island is a living being that wishes to escape from Manhattan's East River and follow the route of progress. This first chapter of the Subliminal History of New York State was performed at PS.1 in Queens and on Roosevelt Island. In the next stage of the story, the Island travels up the Hudson River to the capital region, then west on the Erie Canal to Niagara Falls and on to Lake Erie.

We express the Subliminal History of New York State through a set of shape note songs, written by Carrie and Jesse. Shape note music is a community a cappella singing tradition that was popular in Upstate New York in the early 1800s and is presently experiencing a revival in the region. The style is called shape note music because the musical notes have different shapes designed to make it easier to learn how to sing. Shape note songs were written by itinerant singing masters who wrote new music as they toured the countryside, selling tunebooks and teaching singing schools from town to town. Their songs, often named for the places where they were written, form a subliminal record of the paths these singing masters followed across the State. We embrace this practice in our own Subliminal History, conducting performances modeled after shape note singing schools. We produced a tunebook featuring the first chapter of our subliminal history at the Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York, and will be creating a zine version of the subliminal history for the Peekskill Project.

On the shuttle busses transporting visitors between the different areas of Peekskill, we will conduct a singing school, illuminating Peekskill's place in the subliminal history of New York. (We would also be happy to present our performances on the Ferry-go-round or on other transportation vehicles associated with Peekskill Project 2006.) Prior to the Peekskill Project, we will research spend time in Peekskill, researching the city's history and developing our story. Our performance will include theater and storytelling, weaving history and happenstance into a twisted history of Peekskill, singing instruction, teaching bus riders how to sing shape note music, and will culminate in the participatory performance of a shape note song about Peekskill, written by Carrie and Jesse.

Site Information

We would like to stage our singing school performance on the shuttle busses that will transport visitors around Peekskill during the Peekskill Project. However, we could present the singing school elsewhere. We would be happy to perform on the Ferry-go-round, or on any other vehicles dedicated to transporting people visiting the Peekskill Project.

Work Samples

Artists' CVs