11.03.21 – 01.07.22
The Queens Museum is undertaking a Year of Uncertainty (YoU), a framework for strengthening connections 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. In January 2021, the Museum invited six Artists-In-Residence, nine Community Partners, and twelve Co-Thinkers to be at the center of YoU.
Working together with Queens Museum staff across departments and our constituents, this community is informing and participating in a reimagining of the Museum and its infrastructure. Now, outputs of this learning and process are being shared here in the galleries, through public conversations, activations, and presentations across all spaces and platforms of the Museum.
These public-facing presentations are scheduled to unfold and evolve over the course of three phases:
I. October 2021 — Participate & Build invites visitors to join the co-creation of projects in progress through public programming.
II. November-December 2021 — Engage & Experience highlights exhibitions and activations in their further developed state.
III. January 2022 — Synthesize & Reflect concludes the year of collective research and collaboration through public and strategic conversations, leading to new, flexible, working methods that will help us sustain and grow our commitments to culture, accessibility, and equity.
Phase II: Engage & Experience is a critical juncture in the development of exhibitions and activations for the Year of Uncertainty. Projects by Artists-In-Residence and Community Partners that began in Phase I grow alongside public dialogue and artistic research, while programs and other interventions continue to activate Museum spaces. New exhibitions, off-site collaborations, and programming by Community Partners and Program Partners amplify the work of cohort members across creative practice, community organizing, and advocacy.
YoU Projects in Progress
Gabo Camnitzer’s three parts project Student Body, Video School, and Glorious Wound intersect and evolve around the theme of education, sculpture, and video. Combining strategies of experimental pedagogy and participatory installation and program, Camnitzer’s work variously address and dissect childhood as a site of ideological and material struggle. These themes are poignant in particular under the current mass experiences of digital learning that raises a fundamental question about the future of the classroom as well as the architecture of virtual, spatial matrices dominated and designed by for-profit tech corporations.
In Water Connects Us All, Tecumseh Ceaser (Matinecock Turkey clan) shares the power of language to hold vital interconnected teachings between Indigenous communities. A video visualizes the ongoing language reclamation research that he has been participating in with many communities as part of the Algonquian Language Revitalization Project. By animating the spoken and written words for “water” across sister languages in the Algonquian language family, the artist demonstrates the deep connections between them. The work stands to represent the power of collective memory to recover dormant or resting languages. Ceaser has also invited artists Lydia Chavez (Unkechaug/Blood) and Shane Weeks (Shinnecock) to showcase their work in wampum belt weaving and video alongside this presentation.
Utsa Hazarika’s project Living As A Nation is an evolving installation with works of video, sculpture, and ephemera that explores the hybridity of diasporic Desi identity, and the ways that it forges and enacts connections and communities that are often inaccessible in the politics of South Asian nation states. Embodying the artist’s research, Living As A Nation traces these hybrid formations through medieval and colonial maps of South Asia that explore its shifting conceptual terrain, narratives of historical and contemporary South Asian culture in Britain, and extensive social research on Desi art, activism community organizations in Queens, such as YoU Community Partner, Sakhi.
Mo Kong’s Personal Ark centers on New Yorkool®, a fictional Asian immigrant-owned consulting firm that explores solutions to survival in America post ecological collapse; the nations of the world face an unprecedented level of economic and trade isolation due to environmental disaster and lack of resources. The project imagines this future era in which New York is going through the hottest winter in history, and intermingles the subjects of climate change and biopiracy, xenophobia and global migration, and cultural self-identification, realized through an immersive installation including sculpture and olfactory elements, and an accompanying online platform.
In this presentation, Julian Louis Phillips centers on the psychological and physical presence of the police, referencing police training manuals, protest banners and “civil disorder” tactics. The Strategic Response Group (TSRG) serves as a counter-narrative project that will be defined through gradually developing channels of communication. Experimenting with new methodologies and conceptual frameworks the exhibition will evolve over time with elements such as sculptures, drawings, films, and a series of collaborative youth workshops. Together these address the histories, strategies, and experiences of policing and protest, and explore transformative visions of abolition and an end to the carceral state.
Artist collaborators Tali Keren & Alex Strada are creating a new multi-media participatory artwork called Proposal for a 28th Amendment? Is it Possible to Amend an Unequal System? The project centers on imagined amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which will be gathered through public workshops co-led with Queens-based community partners and legal scholars, and by direct participation from viewers. These imagined amendments and other responses to the project’s questions will then be emitted through a range of accessible soapboxes that function as listening stations.
Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation (RDRC) was founded in 1978 to promote the revitalization of the Rockaways’ economic base and neighborhoods, and to secure an improved quality of life for its residents. As part of the Year of Uncertainty, RDRC worked with local participants in the NYC DYCD’s Summer Youth Employment Program and the Learn & Earn Afterschool Program to create A Pandemic World – Through our Eyes, a visual record of their reflections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics that resonated with the group included social justice, climate change, economic disparity, distance learning, and mental health.
The Caribbean Equality Project’s Live Pridefully: Love and Resilience within Pandemics is an interdisciplinary exhibition that celebrates queer and trans Caribbean resilience through a racial justice lens, while fostering critical conversations related to pride, migration, surviving colliding pandemics, and coming out narratives. Caribbean diasporic immigrant rights, gender justice, and trans rights advocates live at the intersections of outdated immigration policies, anti-black violence, racism, homophobia, transphobia, gender-based violence, xenophobia, and misogyny in the United States and throughout the Caribbean region. In a year of uncertainty, Live Pridefully reimagines and affirms undocumented Black and Brown LGBTQ+ immigrants and asylum seekers as essential workers, creatives, and contributors to the cultural diversity of New York City.
LIFE Camp presents Kingdom Peace, an exhibition that stems from the violence prevention and community building organization’s motto, “Peace is a Lifestyle.” Within the Queens Museum galleries, they intend to hold space for, and spread love and healing. On view are handmade pieces of art, a mural, and documentation that reflect the daily work and vision of LIFE Camp’s Peace Makers and Youth Leaders in South Jamaica, Queens.
Field Station for Flushing Bay and Flushing Creek is a progressing installation that brings to life Flushing waterways, and in collaboration with YoU artist-in-residence Tecumseh Ceaser, explores GoFB’s role as ‘stewards’ of them. GoFB understands ‘good stewardship’ to mean taking care of all of the dimensions that impact these sites, including ecological, social, political and physical dimensions, and doing so in a way that centers those with the greatest access barriers. GoFB’s approach is deeply collaborative and often playful, originating from the efforts of dragon boat teams, educators, and artists. They will periodically host programming within their installation and beyond.
For those impacted by the intersections of various systems of oppression, Malikah practices visioning and collective understanding as critical tools for healing. “What would the world look like…,” compiles reflections on this visioning question from members of the Malikah community, including women and gender expansive people who work or live in Queens. In conjunction, Malikah’s Program Manager Deena Hadhoud is collaborating with artist Vaimoana Niumeitolu to create a community mural inspired by these responses, at MAS Ibn Sina Youth Center in Astoria, Queens. To be completed in 2022, the project aspires to be a symbol of resilience, joy, and taking back the streets!
The Self Defense Toolkit is a video introduction to the techniques taught by Malikah instructors’ self-defense courses. Malikah believes empowerment starts at the heart; and through various martial arts styles they have devised a curriculum which centers on de-escalation through empowering one’s body and voice.
Sentimientos en Comunidad (Feelings in Community) is an installation of crochet pieces bringing to life the uncertain emotions that emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to expressing wishes and dreams of the life of each member of the group in an unthinkable way. The embroideries and fabrics embodied in a mouth represent the emotional processes that immigrant women went through during the health crisis, as a way of spiritual and mental healing. These pieces of art tell the present, past and future of more than 30 members of the immigrant community who, when making their weaving, also support each other and share their most intimate fears in order to strengthen each other.
Inherent Power is an exhibition of works from participants in the organization’s summer Community Mobilization Arts Practicum, a youth-centered space that employed art and the values of the gender justice movement to explore and undo the silos of white supremacy. This program was developed in response to the efforts of youth survivors of gender-based violence to break the silence around their own alienation and oppression. Through their works, developed under the guidance of practicum mentors, these savvy and politically-engaged young artists demonstrate their inherent power, which exists regardless of the systems, institutions, and social structures that define and distribute power in our societies.
Community Partner Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo presents In Remembrance of Lorena Borjas, an exhibition that commemorates the founder of Casa Trans, Lorena Borjas Community Fund and Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. She was a leader, known as the “trans Latina mother” of the Latinx community of Queens. Borjas helped establish sustainable resources that provided food, health, legal, and financial support to many trans-identifying individuals throughout Queens. Selections from her personal archive tell the story of her life in advocacy after coming to New York from Veracruz, Mexico in 1981. This exhibition aims to celebrate and place Lorena in a larger context and to remember her for courage and dedication to her trans and gender non-binary queer community.
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 Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.
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