The word “welcome” seemed more appropriate than “foreword” for an online publication, which one can read, look at and listen to in a totally non-linear way. It also previews our hopes to welcome you to an actual exhibition at the Queens Museum in Fall 2020. This publication and exhibition bring together twelve artists and artist groups connected to New York City who are thinking about shelter, home, and mobility, who has access to it and why. The question of “where can we live?” features in all our lives, for some far more harshly than others. This project attempts to frame the challenges felt by people in our city through the perspective of artists. It celebrates their resiliency at the same time as it points to dire inequities.
As I write, “where can we live?” is being asked more urgently than ever. We are in the midst of a global “pause” and period of physical and national distancing that has lasted four months and counting. Queens, where the Museum is located, has been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York. Its neighborhoods are among the most vulnerable in the five boroughs. We are faced with many questions: How will we make our way back to the museum? What will it mean for people to gather once again in public places? What measures will we need to take to make our spaces safe—for our team and for the public?
As we approach what will be a long period of uncertainty, this online publication is one way we are affirming and supporting the voices, ideas, and positions of artists as essential to our world. As a supporter of the artistic imagination, the Andy Warhol Foundation has no peer and we cannot thank them enough for their support of a research fellowship and the exhibition itself. Some works in the exhibition distill systemic disparities through personal, subjective, and tactile experience; other works do so under the influence of the disciplines of urban geography and planning. We are also very grateful to the Graham Foundation, whose support of projects in the expanded field of architecture has extended to this exhibition as well.
First and foremost, we would like to thank the artists who have displayed enormous generosity and unwavering support over the course of this project. Many of them are also lenders to the exhibition, as are their stalwart galleries: Bridget Donahue Gallery (for Sondra Perry) and Galerie Lelong & Co (for Krzysztof Wodiczko). Finally, The Estate of Kynaston McShine has lent two exquisite small works by Jennifer Bolande.
The subject of this project and the way the staff have handled the disruptions are connected to what the Queens Museum is and stands for: reflecting the stories of our community in times of change. Larissa Harris, Curator, has commissioned new productions, restaged historic works, and brought this range of complex positions to light amidst significant institutional transition. The exhibition started life under one director, survived an 18-month gap between directors, and has attempted to begin to digest the unprecedented challenges and new situations of the last six months. In all this she was guided ably by Hitomi Iwasaki, Director of Exhibitions and Programs, and supported brilliantly by Sophia Marisa Lucas and Lindsey Berfond, Assistant Curators. Andrea Escobedo, Research and Curatorial Assistant for the project and Brian Balderston, Exhibition Production Manager, have worked creatively to bring the exhibition into reality. The online publication was invented and reinvented with Sophia, Celine Wong Katzman, NYSCA Curatorial Fellow and its careful and able designer and web developer, Bryce Wilner and Matt Wolff.
I would also like to thank the entirety of our hard-working and intrepid staff and as well as the board of Queens Museum. Their work makes all of ours possible. The publication opens windows into the thought process and influences of the artists involved, and tracks their—and our—shifting relationships with notions of home. Please enjoy this publication. We hope to see you soon at the exhibition itself.