caesura: a forum

a public architectural and sound installation for Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem

artists: Jessica Feldman, Jerome Haferd, and K. Brandt Knapp

fabricated with DASH 7 and supported by kammetal co-produced by Harlem Arts Festival, the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, and the New York City Parks Department

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noun: caesura; plural noun: caesuras
  1. (in Greek and Latin verse) a break between words within a metrical foot.
    • (in modern verse) a pause near the middle of a line.
    • any interruption or break.

About the Project

NYC Parks is pleased to announce the installation of caesura: a forum, a collaborative architectural and sound installation by artist Jessica Feldman and architects Jerome W Haferd & K Brandt Knapp. The installation will be on view between June 20 and October 31, 2015 on the Acropolis at Marcus Garvey Park, a central Harlem park with a rich history in civic engagement, music, and performance.

cae•su•ra: a forum is inspired by Marcus Garvey Park’s iconic antebellum Fire Watchtower & Bell, and by Harlem’s vibrant tradition of activism and rallies. The bell is silent now, as the tower was temporarily dismantled in 2015 as the first phase for its reconstruction. Simultaneously, Harlem is undergoing dynamic change and New York City is experiencing a resurgence of public culture. caesura seeks to temporarily fill an architectural gap – and create a social space – by echoing and inverting the form and function of the absent tower. Like the bell, caesura aims to call up the neighborhood, to preserve and revitalize Harlem’s histories, and to connect newer and older community members to each other, by reactivating this site for congregation, viewing, and listening. The installation will reframe history with a temporary structure and sound. A “caesura” is a break or pause, a place to catch your breath, most specifically in ancient spoken-word art.

A prominent feature of Marcus Garvey Park and its neighborhood, the Mount Morris Fire Watchtower serves as an important community landmark. 19th century efforts to contain fire included round-the-clock watchmen at strategic vantage points. These men directed fire companies through an alarm code, corresponding to the severity of the fire and to numbered districts, transmitted by bells, flags and lanterns. The tower was designated a New York City landmark in 1967 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Through the support of the Marcus Garvey Park Conservancy and the Manhattan Borough President, Parks undertook a major stabilization of the structure in 1994. The Marcus Garvey Park Fire Watchtower was temporarily dismantled in 2015 as the first phase for its reconstruction. The restoration design is currently under development, and the restoration of the tower is expected to be completed in 2017.


The architectural component of this piece begins at the acropolis’ ground as an open air, steel frame, which supports a “horizontal tower” figuration, that the viewer can pass through and meander under. In the center of the piece, the “bell” made of mirrored steel reflects the sky to the south, where the tower stood, and the expansive view to the north of the city. Above, the rectilinear, exterior skeleton of the horizontal figure becomes a curvaceous form on the interior when the inhabitant looks up. The double-curved surfaces are seen through film tape, linear tubes and profiles of steel. Light and air movements dynamically open, pattern and break from the undulating form. Sonically, the skin resonates with voices and music and the “bell” rings with rhythm and chime by use of electromagnetic transducers attached in the fabric and on the steel. New and old histories recorded, spliced and digitally scripted together, activate the acropolis and pause throughout the day. listening . gathering . voicing .


The sonic component of the piece consists of Feldman’s interactive composition, made up of bell sounds and voices. Historical and contemporary recordings and live-streaming voices from speeches, rallies, chants, and assemblies in Harlem are alternated with a through-composed layer of echoing bells. These sounds play and pause throughout the day, making acoustic space for participation and assembly. Analogous to a megaphone, the formal profile of the tower has been tipped sideways, allowing sound to be projected outward. Taut, translucent film runs through this shape and is mounted with electromagnetic transducers that turn the material into a speaker, allowing sound to pour down from the spaces in between the arches above visitors. Transducers mounted inside the mirrored steel plate, standing in for the absent bell, resonate occasionally with Feldman’s composition of recorded bell sounds. The mirrored steel plate emits sounds composed of the reverberations of bells. A microphone mounted at the entrance to the installation allows visitors to broadcast their own voices through the piece. Those not present can participate through an interactive online component, allowing them to trigger the bell and contribute their own live audio to the arches. New and old histories are recorded, spliced, and digitally scripted together, activating the acropolis throughout the day.

source material:

Marcus Garvey speeches Copyright © 1995 The Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers Project, UCLA

The Artists

Jessica Feldman is a Harlem-based artist with a background in sound, sculpture, and installation. She moves among the worlds of new media art, electronic music, academia, and activism. Her work considers the sensual body and discourse in public space. She is interested in using sound and computing to open up spaces for storytelling, exchange, and empathetic experiences; directing systems and objects of privatization and surveillance (walls, cameras, recordings) towards poetics of intimacy and community normally foreclosed. A wall becomes a transmitter, a watchtower is turned on its side and reimagined as an oracle. Pieces have been performed, installed and exhibited internationally at art galleries, museums, concert halls, public parks, city streets, tiny closets, boats, the New York City subways, and the internet. Recent venues include Socrates Sculpture Park, The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Maison Jandelle (Paris), GASP Gallery (Boston), White Box, The Kitchen, LMAKProjects, and many outdoor, public sites. Her work has received awards from NYSCA, the LMCC, Meet the Composer, and the Experimental Television Center, among others. She has taught media and sound art at The New School and Temple University. She received an MFA in Intermedia Art from Bard (2007), an MA in Experimental Music from Wesleyan (2005), and a BA in Music from Columbia (2001) and is completing a PhD in Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU.

Jerome W Haferd & K Brandt Knapp are a Harlem-based practice whose projects include writings, drawings, presentations, and built work. Their collaboration began as graduate students at Yale School of Architecture. Performance and Play, Abstract vs. Built Form, Nature and Territory are some of the interests they have worked on in their collaboration. Trained architectural professionals from award-winning firms; the two have been exploring their interest in public space through experimental public projects since 2012. Haferd and Knapp were winners of the first annual Folly competition held by The Architectural League of New York and Socrates Sculpture Park. They have experience teaching and have recently been invited jurors at Yale, Ohio State, Wesleyan, and Columbia. Brandt Knapp (M.Arch, Yale ‘10) has worked in the offices of Joeb Moore & Partners, and Richard Meier & Partners. She studied both architecture as well as photography and has maintained a strong interest in the arts and teaching. Jerome Haferd (M.Arch, Yale ‘10) is an assistant critic at Columbia University’s GSAPP. He spent time at the OMA and Zephyr Architects in Beijing before joining Bernard Tschumi Architects, where he has participated in built projects as well as exhibitions at the FRAC Centre and Centre Pompidou, Paris. Knapp and Haferd were the winners of the inaugural Folly competition hosted by the Architectural League of New York and Socrates Sculpture Park. caesura will be their third major public installation in New York City.

Supporters & Special Thanks

cae·su·ra: a forum is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. cae·su·ra: a forum is also made possible in part with public funds from The Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. LMCC.net

Special Thanks to:

NYC Parks Department : Jennifer Lantzsas, Kieishsha Garnes, Arnyce Foster, and all Parks officials, electricians, and masons involved for their work, permitting, and production support.

Dash7Design: Mike O’Toole, Josh and Adam for extraordinary dedication, welding, and fabrication support

Kammetal: Alastair Kusack and the staff for laser-cutting services and excellent support

Harlem Arts Festival : Neal Ludevig, Chelsea Goding, Tania Balan-Gaubert

Marcus Garvey Park Alliance : Connie Lee and the members of the Alliance for their passion and inspiration

Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association

Harlem Arts Alliance

Lempira Interiors - Esteban Morris and his staff for their hardwork and consideration

Manhattan Tool Rental: logistical support and tool rental

Socrates Sculpture Park : John Hatfield, Elissa Goldstone, Lars Fisk, and staff for advising and general support

VViViDVinyl.com : Dave Fraser

Ash Kamel, web development and production support

Canal Rubber

William and Laura Montgomery, David Blasher, Cory Coleman, Diego Arango, Felix Ciprian, Robert Haferd, Theodora Danylevich, Alan Wallis, Ken Knapp, Kathi Eppler, Mandy Giovetti, "Kenny Bones", Lilah Weiss, Danielle, Franklin, and Nelson.