From 2004-2006, I organized a series of large-scale public art events in which I invoked the aesthetic vernacular of American Civil War battle reenactment as a stage set for a polyphonic marshaling of voices in my artistic and intellectual communities. Instead of pitting two sides against each other or reenacting a battle for which the outcome was already known, I organized these events around the question “What are you fighting for?” and called the project The Muster, a military term meaning a gathering of the troops for the purposes of inspection, critique, exercise and display. In 2004, the project took place on the 96-acre wooded property of artists Mark Dion and J. Morgan Puett in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania. Approximately 75 enlisted participants fashioned uniforms, built campsites, and declared their causes in a formal roll call, which I called The Declaration of Causes. I directed but did not script the event, so that its outcome was only revealed at The Muster itself.

The Muster 2004
Allison SMITH The Muster 2004 Fighting for Trench Art
Allison Smith (Mustering Officer)
2004
Fighting for Trench Art
Photo by Bob Braine

Mildred's Lane, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania
Allison SMITH The Muster 2004
Mustering Officer's Field Desk
2004

"Hello Chelsea," Bellwether, New York. Collection of Arario Gallery, Cheonan, South Korea. Photo credit Bellwether.

Allison SMITH The Muster 2004
Mustering Officer's Field Desk
2004

"Hello Chelsea," Bellwether, New York. Collection of Arario Gallery, Cheonan, South Korea. Photo credit Bellwether.
Allison SMITH The Muster 2004 Fighting for The Land
Mark Dion (General Mayhem)
2004
Fighting for The Land
Photo by Bob Braine

Mildred's Lane, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania

Allison SMITH The Muster 2004 Photo by Bob Braine
J. Morgan Puett (Gone AWOL)
2004
Photo by Bob Braine

Mildred's Lane, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania
Allison SMITH The Muster 2004 Fighting for the Right to Denounce Your Bad Ancestors
Josiah McElheny (Pamphleteer)
2004
Fighting for the Right to Denounce Your Bad Ancestors
Photo by Bob Braine

Mildred's Lane, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania

Allison SMITH The Muster 2004 Photo by Bob Braine
Adam Putnam (The Ghost of Abe Lincoln)
2004
Photo by Bob Braine

Mildred's Lane, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania
Allison SMITH The Muster 2004 Fighting for the Happiness of Mortals
Amy Yoes (The Happiness of Mortals)
2004
Fighting for the Happiness of Mortals
Photo by Bob Braine

Mildred's Lane, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania

Allison SMITH The Muster 2004
Mustering Officer's Campsite
2004

Mildred's Lane, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania. Collection of Arario Gallery, Cheonan, South Korea. Photo credit Bob Braine.
Allison SMITH The Muster 2004
Mustering Officer's Campsite
2004

Mildred's Lane, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania. Also exhibited in the 2004 Armory Show, Bellwether booth. Photo credit Bob Braine.

Allison SMITH The Muster 2004 gouache on handmade paper
Stack-Arms
2004
gouache on handmade paper
6x9"

Study for a sculpture of the same name, featuring wool hooked rug, carved wood guns, and cloth pocket with painted bandana pattern. Photo credit Allison Smith.
Allison SMITH The Muster 2004 Gouache on paper, 1 of 2.
George Washington's Masonic Apron
2002
Gouache on paper, 1 of 2.

Photo Credit Liz Deschenes.

Allison SMITH The Muster 2004 Gouache on paper
Allison Smith's Muster Apron
2006
Gouache on paper
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