Xaviera Simmons:
Crisis Makes a Book Club

Queens Museum presents Crisis Makes a Book Club, a large-scale exhibition by Xaviera Simmons. Simmons’ formally-based practice spans photography, performance, video, sound, sculpture and installation to critically examine contemporary art practices and American life as shaped by the social histories of whiteness, structural and systemic maladies, and labor. The exhibition includes works that tether form to sensuality, desire, language, and abstraction, and new monumental works that expand on several artistic modes including text based paintings, photographs, video, sculptural figures, chromatically coordinated interventions in the galleries and billboard sized works for the Museum’s exterior facade. Understanding white supremacy and capitalism as intertwined systems that uphold the vast reach of the United States’ empire, Simmons’ works call on the urgent need for wide, structural repair. In this ambitious exhibition, Simmons proposes a turn away from ideologies of representation towards a liberatory framework that centers both a rigorous engagement with art history as well as reparative economic and spiritual projects. 

Simmons is collaborating with the La Jornada and Queens Museum Cultural Food Pantry on projects in the pantry’s distribution area. These interventions honor the care work of pantry volunteers while also pushing against the ways in which food pantries are born from wealth stratification. Simmons’ work acknowledges that poverty and the unequal access to resources are a structural symptom of capitalism that can only be countered by large-scale systemic change. 

Working together with an extensive cross-section of individuals that makeup our community, as well as QM staff, the artist will produce long-form, time-based engagements in public programs and education that ground the works. This includes her public engagement project, the long lecture.

Xaviera Simmons (b. New York, NY) is an artist whose sweeping practice includes photography, painting, video, sound, sculpture, text and installation that engages the formal histories of art through the construction of landscape, language, and the complex histories of the United States and its continuing empire building internally and on a global scale. Simmons received her BFA from Bard College (2004) after spending two years on a walking pilgrimage retracing the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade with Buddhist Monks. She completed the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program in Studio Art (2005) while simultaneously completing a two-year actor-training conservatory with The Maggie Flanigan Studio, NY. Recent solo exhibitions include Nectar at Kadist, Paris; The Structure, The Labor, the Pause at Sarasota Art Museum; Convene at Sculpture Center, New York; Overlay at Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University; The Gold Miner’s Mission to Dwell on the Tide Line at The Museum of Modern Art- The Modern Window, New York; and CODED at The Kitchen, New York. She has participated in recent group exhibitions at museums including The Momentary at Crystal Bridges, Bentonville; Desert X, Palm Desert; Sprengel Museum Hannover; The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro; MassArt, Boston; The Renaissance Society, Chicago; Seattle Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Nasher Museum of Art, Durham; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Prospect.4, New Orleans; Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan; Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Cincinnati Art Museum; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, among others. Simmons’ work has been featured and reviewed in many publications; most recently in ArtNews, The Art Newspaper, Artnet News, Artforum, Hyperallergic, New York Magazine, Bloomberg, Paper Magazine, The New York Times and others. Simmons’ works are in major museum and private collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Deutsche Bank, New York; UBS, New York; The Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Agnes Gund Art Collection, New York; The De La Cruz Collection, Miami; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Studio Museum in Harlem; ICA Miami; Perez Art Museum Miami; The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro; The Nasher Museum of Art, Durham; The High Museum, Atlanta, among many others. She has held teaching positions at Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University and The School Of The Art Institute, Chicago. In Spring 2020 she was awarded the prestigious The Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters from Bard College. Simmons is a recipient of Socrates Sculpture Park’s Artist Award (2019), Agnes Gund’s Art for Justice Award (2018), as well as Denniston Hills’ Distinguished Performance Artist Award (2018). The artist has exhibitions, performances and projects slated to open globally through 2024. 

Xaviera Simmons: Crisis Makes a Book Club is made possible in part by lead support from the National Endowment for the Arts, David Castillo Gallery, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Image: Xaviera Simmons, Because You Know Ultimately We Will Band A Militia, 2021. Desert X installation view, Palm Springs, CA. Photo: Lance Gerber. Courtesy the artist and David Castillo.

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