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A continuing journey to uncover the lost narratives of river people, river communities, and the river itself.
77 backers pledged $9,353 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$9,353

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Secret History is an artist's journey through the history of a river. It weaves together threads of adventure, history, art, and story.

UPDATE 2: Here in the last two hours, if you increase your support to $50 you will get both a DRUNK POSTCARD AND THE WOODBLOCK POSTER.

UPDATE 1: If we make it to $10,000 EVERYONE over $50 will receive Jake Simowitz beautiful woodcut poster. 

A rustic recreated 1940s shantyboat, a series of daring river voyage, and a meticulous archive of river stories are all part of a multi-year art and history project, A Secret History of American River People.

Visit the Secret History website at peoplesriverhistory.us

The Project So Far

Thanks to your support, last summer we traveled across country with the Shantyboat to the Mississippi River and spent a month gathering stories of river people. We interviewed dozens of folks, adventures, scientists, storytellers, river rats, boathouse people. Then we came back and turned those interviews into the soon-to-be-launched first installment of the Secret History documentary.

An Ambitious Journey

This summer, the second phase of the project, we have even more ambitious plans. We are spending the entire summer on the Mississippi River continuing where we left off. Plus we have three exhibitions in the Twin Cities and a few at museums downriver. A whole summer on the river means we can talk to more River people. We can learn about the history and current issues of river communities. We can take the time to listen to the river.

When we get back, I’ll be working more on the web documentary and a full research archive of interviews. I’m even thinking of writing a book.

The Exhibition

The Secret History installation consists of the trailered shantyboat sited outside the institution and a connected installation inside. In the installation, visitors step onto the recreated shantyboat, pick up the banjo or a book from the library, talk with the artist, or sit awhile. Or they can explore the nearby installation and overhear the stories of shantyboaters, scientists, historians, and locals who live and work on the river.

The Interactive Documentary

The soon-to-be-released interactive documentary combines personal narrative, portraits of interviewees, footage shot from the river, still photos, and ambient audio in an evocative and interactive experience offering multiple branching thematic paths and perspectives.

Why Kickstarter?

We are trying to raise $9000 before June 11th to bring the shantyboat to the Upper Mississippi River, to buy needed equipment, and work our way downriver collecting stories for the archive. Your support makes this project work.

There are lots of ways to support the project so check out the website. But if you can give your financial support, every little bit helps. Five bucks gets us 20 miles closer to the river. $25 and we will send you a hand scrawled drunken postcard from the Mississippi. 

Thanks again for making a Secret History possible.

The Rewards

Send us a Card For the Archive - $5 Pledge: Send us your art on a postcard (or a photo) and it will go into the Secret History archive and possibly hung up within the shantyboat on our journey.

Outfit the Shanyboat - $10 Pledge: Pledge $10 and then pick and send us something from our wishlist. We will name the item after you and send you a thank you with a photo of the item on the shantyboat.

Drunk Postcard - $25 Pledge: This was our most popular reward last year. We will write you a postcard while we are drunk and traveling on the river. All those hard days of boating and interviewing and long summer evenings of river living. We will drunkenly tell you all about the stuff we'd never tell you when we were sober.

Secret History Woodcut - $50 Pledge: Check out the beautiful woodcut print created by artists Jake Simowitz, yours with a $50 pledge. It's a large single-color print (24" x 16") of his woodcut for the project on beautiful sturdy paper.

Secret History T-Shirt - $100 Pledge: Here is the Secret History T-shirt, also from Jake Simowitz' shantyboat woodcut, a gorgeous black tee and comes in a variety of sizes on quality fitted American Apparel-style tees. It's the reward for your $100 pledge. We'll ask your size and style preference in a survey after the campaign is funded.

Signed Punk Rafting Comic - $200 Pledge: Artist Wes Modes created a short comic book of his adventures punk rafting on the Missouri River. Color printed and bound comic, signed by the artist. AND we send you a poster.

Skype Date with Artists - $500 Pledge: While we are on the river, we can call you up through the wonders of the Internets if we are near a wifi connection. You'll get to ask us all about the compromises and drama of living in tight quarters, and hear stories that aren't fit for the general public. Our 45 minute date can be redeemed over the internet, or afterward, in person at a mutually agreeable place, if you live near the SF Bay Area. And we will send you the poster and a t-shirt.

How the Money is Spent

This year, the project has a $21K budget with $9000 coming from crowdsourcing. Most of that goes toward fieldwork, followed by equipment and paying the artists.

Crowdsourcing makes up just under half of the Secret History budget, so as you can see, your support is critical. The rest of the project budget comes from grants and from the artist's contribution to the project.

More Information and Updates

If you support the project, you will get regular project updates (Last year we sent out about 24). If you want to sign up for regular project updates, especially when we are on the river, you can sign up via email, rss, and twitter on our contact page.

Risks and challenges

I am a veteran DIY boater and know from a decade of experience that the challenges and setbacks that you encounter on the river are part of the journey.

The project is an oral history of people's river experiences. This includes my own meta-narrative of the Secret History exhibition. There are the stories that people have to tell, and, as well, there is the story of discovering that story. The people, the places, the blissful days, the heat and humidity and mosquitos, the driving wind and rain, the setbacks. These are all part of the human history that we are all part of making.

Last year, our reward fulfillment took forever and we thank you for your patience. This time, we are not offering anything as a reward that we don't already have ready to go.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A POSTCARD IN THE ARCHIVE. Send us a postcard before we leave and we will put it in the Secret History archive, maybe even posted in the shantyboat. It can be handmade, your own artwork or photo, a vintage card, or whatever you want. Send to 548 Redwood Dr, Felton, CA 95018 before June 22nd.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    OUTFIT THE SHANTYBOAT. Your modest contribution to the campaign plus select one of the many things we need for the trip from our wishlist (http://amzn.com/w/3BZT16UTFU5DL) and have it sent straight to us! We will name it after you, send you a personal thank you, and email you a photo of it installed in the shantyboat.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A HAND-SCRAWLED DRUNK POSTCARD ENROUTE. In the evenings while we are drinking to forget the latest fury the river has thrown at us, we'll carelessly scrawl you a postcard that we may regret later. Hear all about whatever is on our minds, unfiltered by inhibitions, propriety, and good sense, delivered by USPS!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    SECRET HISTORY WOODCUT POSTER. This beautiful poster made by artist Jake Simowitz is a large print (24" x 16") of his woodcut for the project on beautiful sturdy paper. See the photo in the Rewards section to the left.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    WEAR THE SECRET HISTORY PROJECT. This gorgeous black t-shirt made by Jake Simowitz from his shanytboat woodcut print comes in a variety of sizes on quality fitted American Apparel-style Tees. See the photo in the rewards section to the left.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    SIGNED COPY OF THE GOOD SHIP ABANDON. Artist Wes Modes created a short comic book of his adventures punk rafting on the Missouri River. Color printed and bound comic, signed by the artist. PLUS we send you a poster.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    SKYPE DATE WITH SECRET HISTORY ARTISTS. While we are on the river, we'll call you and share some of the stories of our journey. Our 45 minute date can be redeemed over the internet, or afterward, in person if you live near the SF Bay Area. PLUS we send you the poster and a t-shirt.

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Funding period

- (14 days)