Image: Courtesy of The Green-Wood Historic Fund Collections.
Graveyard Shift: Yonatan Gat
The first commission for Graveyard Shift is a site-specific performance by musician Yonatan Gat and the Eastern Medicine Singers, a multicultural collaboration between the acclaimed guitarist and a Native American group. Gat came to the spotlight 15 years ago in the nexus of experimental music and performance art as a founder of Monotonix, which SPIN hailed as “the most exciting live band in rock’n’roll”. His billboard-charting sophomore LP, Universalists introduced the career-redefining performance of Medicine, which integrated the hypnotic drumming and chants of the Algonquin pow wow group the Eastern Medicine Singers.
This special performance concludes with a procession across Green-Wood’s moonlit paths.
Gat began working with the Eastern Medicine Singers after a chance encounter at SXSW when he saw them playing in the street. In his own words: “First time I saw the Eastern Medicine Singers they were playing outside the venue just before we went on. I loved their music and asked if they wanted to join us. We never met before, and they immediately replied – ‘no.’ I suggested they can decide after they hear the music, and by the second song I noticed them hauling their gigantic drum inside. My trio performs on the floor, so we formed two circles inside the audience – their group and ours with the audience surrounding both bands. The crowd were banging on the musicians’ backs – crying, dancing, trancing. Chief Black Eagle, Artie Red Medicine, Dean Running Dear, Ray Two Hawks, Harry Grey Owl and me became friends for life in that moment, and our collaboration took on a life of its own.”
About the Series
American cemeteries of the nineteenth century were public parks that once saw visitors picnicking on the lawns, strolling down meandering paths, and socializing together as families. In the last century, however, these spaces have become more utilitarian in nature and lacking public engagement beyond funerals and grieving. Graveyard Shift proposes a new way of interacting with the space of the cemetery by activating it through sight, sound, and movement. This performance program features commissions taking place at and in collaboration with Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery, where the storied landscape and monuments are used as reference points for producing site-specific works.
About The Green-Wood Cemetery
Founded in 1838 as one of America’s first rural cemeteries, the Green-Wood Cemetery soon developed an international reputation for its magnificent beauty and became the fashionable place to be buried. By 1860, it was attracting 500,000 visitors a year, rivaling Niagara Falls as the country’s greatest tourist attraction. This popularity helped inspire the creation of public parks, including New York City’s Central and Prospect Parks. Green-Wood’s diverse set of public programs include arts and cultural events, twilight tours, workforce development programs in masonry restoration, a new range of Social Studies-aligned school programs, environmental justice workshops focused on street trees, exhibitions in our Fort Hamilton gatehouse and much more. For more information, please visit www.green-wood.com.