Pleasure Gardening with Tourmaline

Ebony Flowers. Map of Pleasure Gardening with Tourmaline audio tour. 2021

Introducing Pleasure Gardening with Tourmaline

Tourmaline: Hi, I'm Tourmaline. I’m an artist, filmmaker, and writer based in New York. In honor of Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the freedom of enslaved people in the United States, I explored some sites of resistance and liberation throughout New York City that have been important to me. I visited these places with my friend T. Lax.

T. Lax: Hello. My name is Thomas Lax, also known as T., and I'm a curator in the Department of Media and Performance at MoMA.

Tourmaline: The title of this tour is Pleasure Gardening. It is an invitation to be in our pleasure, to feel ourselves, and not continue to think that we can somehow separate our pleasure from our desire for freedom for our greater community.

T. Lax: I see Tourmaline’s project as an open invitation into Black space, a real and metaphorical place, where many people can gather in their vast differences, to practice their wildest visions of freedom.

Tourmaline: You’ll hear from us and from a few people whose own freedom dreaming tends to these places and inspires me to dream bigger.

Cynthia R. Copeland.

Cynthia R. Copeland: These people found a way to be here and these people found a way to make a way out of no way.

Tourmaline: Mariame Kaba

Mariame Kaba: If you are steeped in Black history in the United States, we know that in the most repressive environments, mutual aid is essential for people's survival, it's survival work.

Tourmaline: And Robin D. G. Kelley

Robin D. G. Kelley: Liberation is not necessarily something that we sort of achieve by getting to the mountain top. But it's a constant process of cultivation.

Tourmaline: Pleasure gardens were real places in New York City in the 1820s. They had nature. They had fireworks. They had hot air balloons. There were Black-owned pleasure gardens, places where Black people, when slavery was still legal in New York, would go and be able to be with each other in nature.

In this audio, you’ll hear about Black residents in New York City who established places for self-actualization and dreaming; places where people could come together without the threat of violence, they could form community, and help one another, and even just be.

We’ve included a map and images so you’re welcome to listen at the sites or wherever you are.

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