A conversation with Current Queer|Art|Mentorship Fellow Russell Perkins and his Mentor Nancy Brooks Brody (Fierce Pussy), along with Jeanne Vaccaro and Caitlin McCarthy, The Center’s Archivist about the legacy of art embedded in the working life of the LGBT Community Center, and a proposal for a new work by Nancy Brooks Brody and Russell Perkins, titled A Different Light, celebrating Leslie Feinberg and hir trailblazing labor to articulate marginalized queer histories and identities.
This event is part of the 2018-2019 Queer|Art|Mentorship Annual, curated by current Fellow Jeanne Vaccaro and titled “How do we know what we need you to know: Intimate access and collective care.” The exhibition will present across multiple formats and locations (including The LGBT Community Center, Bureau of General Services – Queer Division, Movement Research, and La MaMa E.T.C.) new work by the graduating Fellows of the 2018-2019 Queer|Art|Mentorship program: J. Bouey, Candystore, Daniel Chew, Xandra Clark, Sarah Creagen, Cristóbal Guerra, Russell Perkins, Ripley Soprano, and Natalie Tsui. Learn more at www.queer-art.org/qam-annual
About A Different Light
A Different Light is an artwork about margins and in-between spaces. As a permanent, site-specific installation at The Center, Nancy Brooks Brody and Russell Perkins propose to engrave a small constellation of marks on the exposed undersides of the stone stairs of Stairwell C. These marks are drawn from handwritten notes found in writer, activist, and trans historian Leslie Feinberg’s personal library; culled from texts on political science, history, and poetry, they testify to moments of questioning, critical engagement, and discovery in Feinberg’s reading and writing practice.
The work is inspired by the legacy of art embedded in the working life of The Center. Joining the installations by Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt and Susan Strande that already share the liminal space of the stairway, it is meant to be viewed by passing through. The old stone steps resonate with the collective movements of the many bodies that have used them. Similarly, the heavily marked-up book pages—which we found as a result of our research in The Center archives—resonate with Feinberg’s trailblazing labor to articulate marginalized queer histories and identities.
In both cases, one senses an indexical contact with the past that cannot be translated into any single statement or message, but which speaks to physical processes of community in formation. By proposing an analogy between the transitional space of the stairway and the intertextual space of the margin, the work suggests that the viewer is participating in a story that is still being written.
As part of A Different Light, Nancy Brooks Brody and Russell Perkins propose to paint the lights in The Center’s outdoor courtyard pink. The lights’ coloring will be visible in both the day and night; once the sun has set and the lights are turned on, the space will be bathed in a warm, pink glow. The piece contrasts the weight and interiority of the proposed stairway engraving; both works, however require the viewer to look up in order to notice them. Because the windows on each floor landing of Stairwell C look out into the courtyard, the two works are also visible to one another.