Access and Community Programs staff convened with a number of the Museum’s neighborhood community partners, artists, and cultural workers on Sunday, January 29. Organized around MPA’s solo exhibition RED IN VIEW, participants discussed the themes of place, migration, and history that reflected the artist’s investigations into the colonization of Mars. Participants also discussed the rapid demolition and construction that have reshaped the Hudson River waterfront and displaced communities that called this area home.
Activist Jay Toole recalled their time spent in a landscape much different from the one we saw through the Museum’s windows that overlook the Hudson River and a portion of the Chelsea Piers. Toole said “This was my home. The piers were my home,” recounted more than twenty-five years of homelessness, often in the heavily industrial Meatpacking District of the 1960s and 70s.
At the onset of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, artists living with the virus responded to stigmatization and the Reagan administration’s lack of response through direct action, community, and their work. Arts organization Visual AIDS supports artists living with HIV/AIDS and preserves their work through its extensive and expanding online registry. Program Director, Alex Fialho shared the digital slideshow RADIANT PRESENCE and emphasized the organization’s goal to introduce audiences to emerging artists such as Kia LaBeija, through their familiarity with well-known artists such as David Wojnarowicz.
In the 1990s a number of dance clubs opened in the Meatpacking District. Whitney Archive Manager, Tara Hart presented an independent project that explores The Clit Club, a sex-positive and lesbian-centered night club that thrived throughout the decade. Hart produced a collection of party flyers that embrace nudity, encourage sexual health, and proclaim its target audience in explicit terms: DYKE & FAG DANCE PARTY.
As MPA opened the program by asking us to close our eyes and answer aloud questions about our curiosities concerning space travel, RED IN VIEW served as an entry point for attendees to think about both where we have been and where we are headed. Visions for life on Mars point to histories of migration and displacement, urging us to consider how we imagine things to play out in the future, and who we imagine will be with us when we get there.
By Justin Allen, Assistant to Access and Community Programs