The circular sandstone fort of Castle Williams has had numerous identities since it was completed on Governors Island in 1811, from New York City harbor defense to Civil War barracks to military prison. Now, for the first time on its second-level casemates, it’s hosting art as part of the ninth annual Governors Island Art Fair, which opens this weekend and continues through September.
While any fair with such a long artist list isn’t going to have a neat, cohesive theme, I did notice a lot of remixing and recycling. Colorful, discarded plastic that’s been collected and formed into cascades by Niki Lederer tumbles out of one house, while Aleksandr Razin is showing a colossal outdoor sculpture built from discarded auto parts. Some of the recycling is more conceptual, such as Netta Laufer’s stills and video of wildlife along the West Bank separation fence; the dogs, boars, and foxes were captured on Israeli army surveillance cameras. Kumasi J. Barnett fills a room with augmented comic books, in which Marvel volumes have been painted over with narratives like the lives and deaths of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
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