The Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art (MOTHA) is dedicated to moving the hirstory and art of transgender people to the center of public life. The Museum insists on an expansive and unstable definition of transgender, one that is able to encompass all transgender and gender-nonconforming art and artists. MOTHA is committed to developing a robust exhibition and programming schedule that will enrich the transgender mythos by exhibiting works by living artists and honoring the hiroes and transcestors who have come before. Despite being forever under construction, MOTHA is already the preeminent institution of its kind.The artists participating in The Stonewall Re-Memorialization Project take MOTHA’s subversive wit into the contemporary political climate, one in which trans communities are again both under attack and fighting back. President Trump recently announced that he is considering reversing rules protecting the 1.4 million Americans who identify as transgender, while at the same time a historic amount of LGBTQ candidates are running for office and are poised to hold greater political power. Trans entertainers and performers are achieving recognition even as transgender people in the U.S. are being killed in record numbers. “There were always limitations in accepting and inclusion," Vargas said. “This political moment has highlighted the limitations.” Monuments have become a particular flashpoint in the U.S.'s fraught political climate, and Vargas says that he began the Stonewall project questioning the role of monuments. "I went into it with a real critical lens, but to be honest, I’ve become more understanding of the importance they play…There’s a way they can evolve over time." Vargas cited the influence of the work of the artist Isa Genzken, whose Ground Zero sculpture series imagined for the World Trade Center site in New York City a series of kaleidoscopic churches and discos instead of drab office towers. Like Genzken's sculptures, the Stonewall proposals embrace messy emotionality and exuberant vitality over orderly construction. The carnivalesque approach reflects the overall strategy for MOTHA, a roving institution that Vargas says will never have a permanent physical home. “At the heart of my approach to this project is an acknowledgment that once you start you canonizing, once you start making an official history, you have to start policing boundaries of what is or isn't considered transgender, and I don't think the identity category lends itself to that approach." Vargas added, "I don’t think it makes sense to have a traditional institution…It makes sense to have it exist as an evolving parasitic entity.” Which is not to say that Vargas wouldn’t want architects to imagine what a home for MOTHA could look like. “It’s been a dream of mine to have an architectural design competition for the institution,” Vargas said. Architects, take note. Consciousness Razing—The Stonewall Re-Memorialization Project will be on view at the New Museum in New York City through February 3, 2019.
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Expanded Visions, said executive director Gonzalo Casals, is meant to be both a mirror and a window. "If you're queer, we hope you see yourself represented in this work," he said."If you're not, this is a window to understand the other—to create empathy to empower and inspire."
Pieces by well-known artists like Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol are displayed near Grey James and Cathy Cade to celebrate queer identity and tell stories about censorship, the HIV/AIDS crisis, beauty, body image, and queer social spaces that sustain community. Although much of the work on view is from the 20th century, and depicts familiar New York moments and places, the exhibition is a survey featuring work from artists as far back as the 19th and 18th centuries. Movable beveled paneled walls in standard-issue gallery white open up a room that, due to a bisecting row of cast iron columns, could otherwise feel too crowded.The Leslie-Lohman Museum commissioned Keith, who's based in New York, to realize an expansion that includes new staff offices, storage space, and a gift shop. The larger space will be an asset to its mission: The museum's small size, explained former interim director Meryl A. Allison, would force it to close during installation and de-installation, but the 2,300 square feet of new space allows the museum to welcome visitors even as shows change over. Keith's work, which started in October 2016 and finished last week, increased Leslie-Lohman's total footprint to 5,600 square feet. The new space, at 26 Wooster Street in Manhattan, officially opens tomorrow, March 10. More information about exhibitions, programming, and hours of operation can be found here.