Kingsborough Art Museum, CUNY Kingsborough, Brooklyn, NY
October 15- December 15, 2021
(Alternative dates, Spring 2022)
Kingsborough Art Museum (KAM) is pleased to present UnHomeless NYC, a group exhibition that brings together twelve artists and artist groups who use participation, activism, and pedagogy as their media. Connecting students, artists, activists, academicians, and the public, the show offers a forum to consider and better understand NYC’s housing crisis and think about our future as CUNY emerges from the pandemic in Fall 2021.
The exhibition holds particular importance for Kingsborough as based on the 2018 #RealCollege survey, out of the 22,000 CUNY students, 55% of respondents were housing insecure in the previous year, and 14% were homeless. The rate of basic needs insecurity was higher for community colleges. The numbers could grow once the city’s eviction moratorium expires in May. UnHomeless NYC was initially conceived to challenge the preconceived notions that make up the stigma of homelessness. With the artworks implementing research, statistics, and activism, the show will illuminate how housing justice has eclipsed by the withdrawal of government support together with the predatory neoliberal land-use policies. The show will reconnect people after long isolation, and will become a platform to discuss and imagine the future differently.
The center of the gallery will be Martha Rosler’s If You Lived Here . . . (1988). The long-time anti-homeless advocate and activist, Rosler’s work will become headquarters for the local activists, set the exhibition in motion. Critical urbanist Manon Vergerio‘s Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (est. 2014) will provide the opportunity to view eviction data on a city map while listening to recordings of evictees’ personal stories. BFAMFAPh.D., a collective that bases their work on pedagogy, will invite a group of KCC administrators and students to form a think tank with NYC housing activists that will seek unique solutions to housing insecurity exacerbated by the crisis. The professor emeritus at Hunter College, Tom Angotti, will discuss land trust and public gardens concerning the Kingsborough Urban Farm as the antidote for the city’s rezoning and gentrification.
Across from If You Lived Here . . . is the twenty-minute documentary, Uneven Growth created for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) of the same title. Directed by New School Professor, Miguel Robels-Duran and Cohabitation Strategies’ (CohStra: http://www.cohstra.org/). Featuring CUNY’s own, David Harvey and Angotti, along with the activist Rob Robinson, Uneven Growth convincingly explains how neoliberalism affected land use and changed people’s relation to housing in New York City, converting the fundamental human rights into investment field. The show will feature CohStra’s transformative urban design, which opens up discussions about the future.
The social aspect of design is also emphasized in the artists’ duo, Michael Corris and William Baronet’s zine using new typography based on Baronet’s collection of homeless signages. Baronet has been purchasing these signages from homeless people since 1993. Canadian artist Dominique Paul politicizes fashion design converting the numeric data into Median Income Dress. The work’s videocaptures the dresstransforming its color–using the built-in-LED-lights–responding to the census color codes as the artist walks through various NYC neighborhoods. Through her work, Paul calls attention to a particular area’s desirability, illuminating the issues of gentrification and racial inequity. These problems echo in Dread Scott’s two photographs from the On the Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide series; they point to the foundation of inequality, calling for institutional change.
Collaboration is a focus of the exhibition. Hope Sandrow and The Artists and Homeless Collaborative’s historical video, Making Art, Reclaiming Lives (1993), demonstrates the value of collective artmaking by documenting the creation of a mural by a community of homeless women at a NYC Park Avenue Shelter together with several New York artists. The artist duo Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman’s site-specific installation, Fragmented Home: Kingsborough, providesvisitorsthe opportunity to manifest their ideas of home and collectively build the structure made of black parachute cord and 6” x 24” pieces of corrugated cardboard pained by the visitors through the artists-led workshop.
UnHomeless NYCproposes ecology and regenerative energy as alternative frames through which to consider the housing crisis. In the exhibition, Michael Rakowitz’s paraSITE workshop galvanizes do-it-yourself spirit in the viewers, opens-up possibilities for creating our future with our hands, and visualizing the marginalized voices. Sachigusa Yasuda will work with fashion-design students and other viewers to produce her anti-capitalist clothing line, UpCycle,UpLift, based on the needs of homeless people. Based on a regenerative economy using secondhand clothes, her work challenges capitalist modes of production/distribution cycle, invites professors and students from diverse disciplines to participate and come up with alternative economic system that is more equitable. Considering different models for habitation and community in the age of climate change, Bibi Calderaro of The Institute for Wishful Thinking (est. 2008) will pose the questions: “What’s home?, Whose home?” by hosting walks to various sites on the Kingsborough Campus–Urban Farm, Beach, and other locations–to consider how various other life forms make their homes in the environments that surround us.
Aside from artworks, talks, and discussions at the exhibition, there will be a film program and a symposium. The artists Maureen Connor and Tommy Mintz of the Institute for Wishful Thinking will create a slide show that presents details about the exhibition and its events on campus-wide information monitors. The Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Sunairi will record the time-based elements of the exhibition that will be available online, as well as viewers’ responses throughout the show.
UnHomeless NYC is an experiment in community college teaching. By connecting the college with the local community, the works and events in and out of the gallery will encourage visitors and students to consider applying the knowledge and insights learned through the arts and humanities to resolve problems that exist on campus and in nearby Brooklyn neighborhoods.