The Hill

LIVING MUSEUM OF THE NOMAD MONAD: Thanksgiving 1990 - August 17, 1993

SUMMARY OF THE PROJECT

On Thanksgiving 1990, the same weekend that Dances with Wolves opened, theater artists Gabriele and Nick erected a tipi made of 78 U.S. Domestic #3 mailbags in a New York City's then longest-existing shantytown known as the Hill, located at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge at Canal and Chrystie Streets. The tipi was named The Living Museum of the Nomad Monad and was dedicated on December 29, 1990, in commemoration of the centenary of the Wounded Knee Massacre, "in remembrance of the lives lost and to the sovereignty and dignity of all disenfranchised individuals today."

Until August 17, 1993 -- the day the City bulldozed the Hill including the tipi poles -- Gabriele and Nick performed theater, exhibited art, but mostly, they lived among their neighbors, getting to know and love them, and watching many of them die.

The journal [contact Gabriele Schafer for access] details their day-to-day lives as they navigate drug dealers, one of New York's largest-ever police corruption scandals, city politics in the Dinkins era (elected to clean up the homeless problem) and the media. And it traces the steps of how a shantytown went from the anonymity of waist-high huts hidden in the weeds, to a tour bus and celebrity stop; from addicts just getting by, to a drug supermarket; from a close-knit encampment, to a crime scene that entangles everyone from pushers, to users, to the cops, to the artists themselves, after one day the unspeakable happens: our most innocent neighbor burned to death in his hut in an arson fire that was targeting someone else.

With the 30-year anniversary approaching, it is important to finally recount this epic bit of New York City history. The people involved -- heroic and deeply flawed -- deserve to have their stories told. And mostly, Mr. Lee must never be forgotten.




BOOKS

 

(From the April/May 2013 exhibit at the New Museum)

 

ARTICLES

 

ESSAY

THEATER AND SEVEN-CARD-STUD (by Nick Fracaro)

 

PLAY

THIEVES THEATRE'S LAST STAND (not including Heiner Mueller's Despoiled Shore Medeamaterial Landscape with Argonauts, which was also performed as part of the evening.)

 

SHORT FILM (10:52) MADE IN 2019 IN HONOR OF MR. LEE