Year of Uncertainty (YoU) at the Queens Museum


The Queens Museum (QM) has embarked on a Year of Uncertainty (YoU), a framework for strengthening connection among the Museum, our communities, and constituents, focused on creating new possibilities for culture, kinship, and mutual support. Centered around themes of Care, Repair, Play, Justice, and The Future, this program responds to hyperlocal and international states of precarity that have been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the crises of inaction and unaccountability toward racial justice and xenophobia, climate reparations, and income disparity. QM will dedicate resources to becoming a center for learning, research, collaboration and production; its public-facing efforts will be opened to internal processes, and vice versa. Taking indeterminacy as an invitation, YoU will explore new ways for institutions to support individuals and publics navigating a world that is always and increasingly shifting. 

At the center of YoU is a cohort of creative interlocutors that will become a part of the fabric of QM: six Artists-In-Residence (AIR) with diverse research-based and socially engaged practices encompassing discursive and participatory forms as well as object-based work; nine Community Partners (CP) from across the borough, tackling issues such as gender-justice; mental health; environmental justice; youth enrichment; gun violence prevention and intervention; LGBTQ+ activism; and civil rights for TGNB people and sex workers; and twelve artists, designers, scientists, writers, architects, and activists have been invited as Co-Thinkers to share their expertise and knowledge with AIR’s, CP’s, and the QM staff. 

As we contemplate the present and imagine possible futures, the history of QM’s building as a site of significant convenings and world-building events as well as its archive and collection will provide fertile guidance. With a critical contemporary perspective, YoU extends the legacy of these events while further centering the concerns of artists, advocacy organizations, and our audiences. YoU will build upon QM’s long history of connecting art and culture to civic participation and urban life via commitments to engagement, education, and partnership in our local communities and beyond.

In Fall 2021, outputs of this learning and co-creation process will be shared through public conversations, activations, and presentations across all spaces and platforms of the Museum. YoU will conclude with collective reflection on this period of experimentation, leading to new, flexible, working methods that will help QM sustain and grow our commitments to culture, accessibility, equity.

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.
— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969

YoU Artists-In-Residence
Gabo Camnitzer
Tecumseh Ceaser
Utsa Hazarika
Mo Kong
Julian Louis Phillips
Alex Strada & Tali Keren

YoU Community Partners
Caribbean Equality Project
Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo
Guardians of Flushing Bay
MinKwon Center for Community Action
Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation
Sakhi for South Asian Women

YoU Co-Thinkers
Tremaine Emory
Shannon Finnegan
Cas Holman
Nora N. Khan
Suzanne Lacy
Mae-Ling Lokko
Guadalupe Maravilla
Naeem Mohaiemen
Xaviera Simmons
Sable Elyse Smith
Kenneth Tam

Program Partners
Nandini Bagchee and Vyjayanthi Rao, UNIT 25,  Spitzer School of Architecture, City College CUNY
The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University
Social Practice Queens (SPQ), Queens College CUNY

The Year of Uncertainty artist residencies and community partnerships are made possible by generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Lambent Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation.

Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.