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Re-Site 2024

Rachel Alexandrou, Maya Tihtiyas Attean, Ashley Page, James Allister Sprang, and Ling-Wen Tsai

INFO
May 4, 2024 – Jul 7, 2024

SPACE is pleased to present Re-Site 2024, the second edition of the site-specific, temporary public art and Portland history-telling initiative we first launched in 2020. This year’s iteration features artistic interpretation of local histories by artists James Allister Sprang, Maya Tihtiyas Attean, Ashley Page, Rachel Alexandrou, and Ling-Wen Tsai, in collaboration with historians Seth Goldstein and Libby Bischof.

James Allister Sprang‘s work creates “sensory audiovisual poems for the spirit” and will activate the landmark building and important African American histories of the Abyssinian Meeting House in a series of intimate listening sessions of sound works. Maya Tihtiyas Attean‘s photographic and mixed media installation at Portland’s oldest place of worship, the First Parish Church, will bear witness and respond to the Indigenous scalp bounties organized by the 18th century church leader. Ashley Page‘s installation will spark dialogue and uplift themes of liberation in response to recently understood historical information about enslavement in Portland at a rare surviving example of a colonial-era estate in Maine. Rachel Alexandrou, with collaborator Joshua Clukey, will reflect on the extractive practices, cycles, and nourishment from the land around us at the site of the former Portland Brick Works, asking us to look at our own extractive footprint while also celebrating and learning about natural cycles of produce from the land. And finally, Ling-Wen Tsai‘s temporary sculptural installation in the tidal landscape will allow us to collapse past, present, and future on the Casco Bay shores, exploring the history of industry that changed the shoreline, reflecting on the daily changes of the tidal landscape today, and pointing the imminent changes of sea level rise and climate change coastal events.

During the inaugural Re-Site in 2020, the focus of Maine Bicentennial programming within the scope of the pandemic pushed the project outdoors into public space and quickly became more urgent and relevant due to the growing call for change across the intersections of civil rights, climate change, public health, and political process. In the four years since these first activations, we are thrilled to bring these new projects and histories to light in order to broaden our knowledge and awareness of local histories and understand how their impact has brought us to where we are today. Our hope for Re-Site 2.0 is to further expand and engage upon what we started, broaden the artistic possibilities, and generate dialogue about what we want to carry with us into the future.

All Re-Site projects are accompanied by a historian-written site history and bibliography for further learning which can be found online, and will be an accompanying conversation between a selection of artists, historians, site stewards, and other individuals that will be available for the public online during the installation.

Re-Site 2024 is made possible with the generous support of the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place initiative.

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Re-Site locations, schedules, and details:

Please note that based on the sites, each installation has unique days and interpretations in which it will be viewable to the public. All sites will feature Re-Site signage, which will include information to read a historian-written site history, photo and video documentation, a full artist statement, and a bibliography with further research on key related objects viewable in public collections. Documentation will be regularly updated and archived on the individual project web pages linked below. 

James Allister Sprang
Listening Sessions
Abyssinian Meeting House | May 4 and 13

May 4 – Listening Session #1; 3:00-4:15 pm, Aquifer of the Ducts
[Register here, space is limited]
May 4 – Listening Session #1; 5:00-6:15 pm, Aquifer of the Weave
[Register here, space is limited 
May 13 – Listening Session #2; 6:00-7:15 pm, Rest Within the Wake
[Register here, SOLD OUT]

James Allister Sprang will be presenting Listening Sessions of his sound works as an opportunity to turn away from the frantic pace of the modern world. Sprang welcomes audiences to join him at the Abyssinian Meeting House for three sessions of communal somatic listening. By taking shape within the history and architecture of the Abyssinian Meeting House, the third oldest standing African American meeting house in the United States, this site was the center of Portland’s African American community throughout the 19th century and has been in the process of restoration to preserve the original character and intention of the building for community use. He invites you to bring something comfortable to lie on/with to tune in to your bodies, your ancestors, your traumas, your pain, your longings, visions, and dreams. Yoga mats will be provided.

Rest Within the Wake, Aquifer of the Weave and Aquifer of the Ducts are three vastly different original compositions recorded and produced between 2020-23. All within the realm of multi-instrumental, experimental, through composed spiritual “vibes.” Each anchoring 60-minute sessions of somatic listening. 

Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources.

John Cullum, A Map of the City of Portland with Its Latest Improvements…, 1836. [Source: Osher Map Library]

Maya Tihtiyas Attean
Roots of Resilience: Echoes of Connection
First Parish Church | May 5 – 30 
May 5, 6-8 pm: RAIN DATE RESCHEDULE
Sunday, May 19th 2-4pm – Opening event to experience the sound installation component and celebrate the project

Maya Attean’s Roots of Resilience: Echoes of Connection, reveals the historical narrative of the relationship between the Wabanaki and the First Parish Church in Machigonne, or what is now known as Portland, Maine. Maya’s work illuminates the deeds of 1757 where church leader, Reverend Thomas Smith and his cohorts, profited from bounty incentives outlined in the Spencer Phipps Proclamation to lead a caravan to perpetrate violence upon the Wabanaki people. As Maya writes, “The attempted genocide of my people failed to extinguish our unyielding spirit; I stand as a testament to that survival.”

Through the use of photography against the left side of the First Parish Church Meeting House in the Memorial Garden, these images serve as a solemn reminder of the connections lost to history’s shadows, juxtaposed against the enduring bonds illuminated by the Wabanaki, people of the Dawn. Simultaneously, an accompanying audio piece, blends chants with archival recordings of Wabanaki children from 1996, weaving sounds that echo a shared continued legacy. This is a response to acknowledge these harsh truths and speak to the strength and legacy of Indigenous ancestry and the Indigenous experience in Maine. 

The opening event on May 5 coincides with Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day, and will be an opportunity to experience the audio component live. 

Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources. 

John Cullum, A Map of the City of Portland with Its Latest Improvements…, 1836. [Source: Osher Map Library]

Ashley Page 
Imagining Freedom
Tate House Museum | May 10–June 30 
Museum hours: Wed-Sat 10 am-4 pm
Note: Ashley Page’s work is on view during the Tate House Museum’s hours of operation and costs their standard rate to view. 
Wednesday, June 19th | Juneteenth Community Day (Free admission + ticketed tour + cyanotype workshop)

Ashley Page’s installation asks, “What does freedom and liberation look like?” Inspired by the history of Bet, an enslaved African who worked for the Tate family’s home built in 1755, and the only colonial house in Portland, that overlooks the Fore and Stroudwater rivers. 

Interdisciplinary artist Ashley Page has partnered with the Tate House Museum for the 2024 iteration of SPACE’s Re-Site project. Reconciling Portland, Maine’s history of industrialization and colonization while contending with the global reverberations of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Imagining Freedom, asks the viewer to step into the shoes of an enslaved Black individual, Bet. Her age, appearance, homelands, and quality of life are all unknown, lost to the unraveling nature of time. Only appearing as a called witness in a court record, we know nothing about Bet other than she was an enslaved servant living and working in the Tate House in the 1700s for an unknown amount of time. Researching the social, political and economic landscape of Maine in the early-late 1700’s and reviewing archival documents, Page makes an intentional departure from the archive as she asks the guiding question: What did freedom look like for Bet? What did her daydreams look like, sound like, taste like? This historial recovery project grapples with the ways enslaved peoples were excluded from historical records and navigates new ways in which we tell our stories.

Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources.

[A Colonial Manuscript Map of Southern Maine], 1773. [Source: Other Map Library] H 72 x W 46.7 cm

Rachel Alexandrou  
Aggregate
Fore River Parkway Trail, Hobart Street | June 3 – 4 
June 3 – Cake for Birds: 5-8 am and 6-8 pm (No RSVP required), plus additional time with the artists present
June 4 – Feast for Humans: 6-8 pm (Register here, space is limited)

Rachel Alexandrou’s Aggregate highlights the importance and beauty of native species and the urgency of ecological change and awareness. This project explores the history of Portland’s significant role in the production and trade of bricks, which formerly took place at this site. Ahead of the events, Rachel will be forming wildflower brick sculptures composed of herbaceous native seeds that are specifically chosen and beneficial for this specific habitat, and made of organic dissolvable materials while also temporarily installing an Audubon motion activated BirdCam. In addition, Rachel will be making a recipe for birds that contain wild seeds and fruit for the first event, Cake for Birds. The public is invited to observe and birdwatch during active bird feeding times and observe the feast. The second event, Feast for Humans will be a guided walk about the ecology and geology of the area, with a series of stations for learning about the plants and soil with plates by artist Joshua Clukey, made out of foraged clay from this site and leftover from the historic brickyard (these can also be purchased). Deep geologic time, the time of brick production in Portland, present day, and future time will all be examined. 

Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources. 

United States Bureau of Soils, Soil Map, Maine, Cumberland County Sheet, 1915.
[Source: Osher Map Library)

Ling-Wen Tsai
Ahead of Schedule
Greenbelt Walkway, Broadway and Clemons Street | On view June 22 – July 7
June 22 – Guided Walking Tour with Ling-Wen Tsai and Seth Goldstein, 11 am – 12:30pm 
Rain date, June 23, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Register here, space is limited 

*We recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes and bringing a reusable water bottle. 

Ling-Wen Tsai’s Ahead of Schedule is a site-specific installation along the Mill Cove salt marsh featuring wooden stakes cut at various heights and painted with environmentally friendly milk paint to visualize the seal level rise and to draw attention to the importance and vulnerability of the ecosystem that depends on its health. While working with the low point of the open green space, there will be more than 850 stakes to represent each of the different species of marine life that inhabit the Casco Bay Estuary and visualize how the changing sea levels have changed over time and shaped various historic industries. 

Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources.

Size: H 70 x W 53.3 cm

Site histories for Re-Site 2024 were written by Seth Goldstein, Director of Cushing’s Point Museum and Director of Development at South Portland Historical Society and historical site research with artists and bibliographical/research provided by by Libby Bischof, Ph.D., Executive Director of Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education and Professor of History and University Historian. A special thank you to the site hosts and stewards: Pam Cummings, President and Co-Director of Educational Programs at The Abyssinian Meeting House; Reverend Norman Allen, Minister at First Parish Unitarian Universalist along with the First Parish congregation, Holly Hurd, Executive Director of Tate House Museum as well as its staff and volunteers; the City of Portland Department of Parks, Recreation and Facilities; and the City of South Portland City Council and Public Arts Committee; and the many additional partners who helped make this project possible. Re-Site 2024 projects have been organized by Meg Hahn, original graphics by Carolyn Wachnicki, additional contributions and facilitation by the 2024 SPACE staff and our gratitude to the 2020 staff who first stewarded this project. SPACE extends its ongoing gratitude to the VIA Arts Fund Incubator Grant for support of the 2020 iteration, and the Mellon Foundation for realizing the 2024 initiative.


Each of these participating artists were nominated by the previous cohort of 2020 participants, selected by SPACE staff, and collaborated with local historians and site stewards on their temporary public installation, performances, or events amplifying the site history. 

Founded in 2002, SPACE is a multidisciplinary contemporary arts nonprofit that promotes the arts and humanities through advocacy, programming, commissioning, statewide grantmaking, resource-sharing, and community collaboration. We work inside our home at 534-538 Congress Street, outside with public art and programming initiatives, statewide through our regranting programs, and (inter)nationally within our professional and artistic networks. Beyond the hundreds of exhibitions and events offered annually, SPACE also uses the top floors of its building to rent below-market-rate studios to local artists and run an artist-in-residence program.

534-538 Congress Street, Portland, Maine I space538.org | 207.828.5600 

ARTIST WEBPAGES: individual web pages

Rachel Alexandrou
Maya Tihtiyas Attean
Ashley Page
James Allister Sprang
Ling-Wen Tsai

Like its homonym recite, this initiative asks us to repeat something in public from memory. It is an invitation for artistic and poetic spatial intervention, aimed at mining the history of the ground beneath our feet. Rooted in the fundamental knowledge of our presence on Wabanaki land, Re-Site strives to promote broader understanding of the lineage of colonization and gentrification that has transformed this landscape, seeing connective steps from the past to the present moment.