WINTER 2015 : The January February March

A Site-Responsive Installation and Audio Walk (with Kate Newby and Jennifer Kabat)


Where does a place begin? What is its middle, and how does it end? Hobart, NY (population 441; formerly Waterville, formerly Tinkertown) shares the story of many towns in its region: a once thriving dairy farming community next door to a lively tourist destination which, after auto and airline travel came to replace rail travel and large-scale industrial farming came to replace family farms, saw its fortunes and its spirits plummet. Now, while it struggles to pick up where it left off 50 years ago, rebranding itself for tourism (as the ‘Book Village of the Catskills’) and industry, it does so in the shadow of a single business whose story of massive success — it’s currently valued at $1 billion — spans exactly the same 50-year timeline as the town’s general decline. That business, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals (formerly Tyco, formerly Covidien, formerly Graham Laboratories), employs more people than live in the town, and very little interaction occurs between the two populations. The fact that the Anti-Rent Rebellions of the 1840s were centered here makes this triumph of capital through a disregard of the commons all the more salient (not to mention the fact that those anti-rent rebels were among the Colonial dissidents who expressed their critique of power by disguising themselves as, and calling themselves, ‘Indians’).

I am interested in all of the dynamics these narratives put into play, all of the questions they raise singly and when juxtaposed. To Pill Town: a Beginning (Version 1) is — as the title indicates — a first step in an investigation into some of the elements that have emerged as I begin my ‘research.’ It takes the form of an audio walk, created as part of The January February March, a site-responsive collaboration with artist Kate Newby and writer Jennifer Kabat. My other collaborators include:

David Rainbird, William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, John Burroughs, Jay Gould, The Anti-Rent Warriors, Oxycodone, M NourbeSe Philip, Rosmarie Waldrop, Arthur Rimbaud, The Dream Machine, Go! Save the Hostages, Hobart Historical Society, Gilboa Historical Society, Weinland Farms, The Hobart Book Village, Arent Bradt, Joseph Brant, Dean “Doc” Graham, Andrew Beers, Ezra Paine, Robert Wool, George Foote, Sarah Beers, Zillow, Capitalism, Mallinckrodt, Inc.,

and all the residents of Hobart, NY since before it began.