"It felt like a really important thing for the community to do. I would have been sorry if it had happened and I'd not been a part of it"
We created 'A Thousand Ships' as a public art display in Providence, Rhode Island, to highlight the state's history with the slave trade.
It featured 1,000 people pouring a libation in a prominent downtown site, actors scattered throughout the crowds performing documents from local slave trade history, as well as rituals of fire, water, dance and music to mark the bicentennial of the abolition of the Transatlantic slave trade.
We primarily based the event on the research of the Slavery and Justice Committee at Brown University, and provided opportunities for further discussion and investigation around the work. Around 30,000 people participated in the event. We then held a public seminar the next day about the impact of what we had done.
I co-conceived of A Thousand Ships, and worked on all aspects including directing volunteers, writing texts, and collaborating with actors. A book about the event, which I co-edited, is now available.
It was the launch event of The Museum On Site, a new collaboration we created to help people understand their worlds.
Co-created with Lyra Monteiro, Barnaby Evans.
Photography by Gordon Stillman.