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A potful of clams and corn being served at Socrates Sculpture Park.  


Mercenaria mercenaria
(2003)

Peter Walsh (USA)

     Chosen by curator Sara Reisman to be part of
FLOAT: A presentation of site-specific, temporary, and ephemeral performance and video works

Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, Queens
Sunday, August 10, 2003

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     The waterways of New York are the site of an early and profound moment in the history of cultural and financial globalization: the collision of European monetary structures and the gift economies of Native Peoples living in eastern North America. Mercernaria mercernaria are the hard shell clams that are used to create the sacred beadwork known as wampampeake or “Wampum.”

     A clambake was held on the East River shores of Long Island at Socrates Sculpture Park on Sunday, August 10, 2003. Project Mercenaria mercenaria did not make or use wampum. Rather, the free clambake was designed to create a new form that mixes contemporary art practices, mainstream American civil society in the form of a non-profit arts organization and the economic concepts of gift exchange.

"A potful of clams and corn being served at Socrates Sculpture Park," 2003. Photo Emily Walsh.

 

Waiting for clams under Jean Shin's Penumbra.
"Waiting for clams under Jean Shin's Penumbra," 2003. Photo Emily Walsh.
Mercenaria Mercenaria Photo Gallery
 
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Gallery of Images from Mercenaria mercenaria

Acknowledgements

     Project "Mercenaria mercenaria" exists because of a series of ongoing gifts that have been set into motion by various individuals and organizations. My thanks go out first and foremost to all the clambake participants for having fun while in fact being treated like guinea pigs in an experiment. The project relied heavily on donated labor, donated food and donated space. Deidre Hoguet, Christopher Quirk, Amy Madden, Emily Walsh, Dyami Bryant, Hope Ginsburg and Jaime Snyder, among others, all worked diligently by my side and the project would have been a catastrophe without their help. I am indebted to them all. Deidre Hoguet and Emily Walsh also took most of the great photos that you see on this webpage. Elizabeth Zans was kind enough to let me borrow her car, an act of generosity that saved me a lot of hassle. Thanks also to Satre Stuelke.

     Many thanks go to curator Sara Reisman and the Socrates staff, including director Alyson Baker and Lisa Gold, for their hard work and support. Allowing me to make use of such a beautiful waterside park added an important measure of context to my project. Artist Jean Shin's lovely sculpture Penumbra was a joy to have floating above the whole performance and Austin Thomas's El Camino mobile platform Perchance: A Floating Scenic Overlook helped make the clambake a real party.

     Bill Zeller at Captree Clams gave me a great deal on the clams themselves and it was a pleasure meeting him. Fresh Direct made a much welcome contribution of vegetables and bottled water. Thanks to them all.


All Content Peter Walsh 2006
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