The Past Isn’t Past
Three artists featured in Greater New York discuss the documentary impulse.
In August 2021, the curatorial team behind MoMA PS1’s Greater New York convened a series of closed-door roundtable conversations between select artists in the exhibition. The aim was to delve into several guiding themes running throughout the show: the importance of documentary and archival methods; the legacy of Surrealism and its relationship to trauma and posthumanism; the history and ongoing influence of Native artists in New York City; and the confluence of abstraction, mourning, and the passing of time. The first of these conversations, which appears below, was titled “The Documentary Impulse and the Archive” and took place between BlackMass Publishing (Kwamé Sorrel and Yusuf Hassan), Hiram Maristany, and Shanzhai Lyric.
Since that conversation, we have been saddened by the passing of Maristany, a legendary documentary photographer and key figure in the struggle for civil rights in our city. Maristany served as the official photo documentarian for the New York chapter of the Young Lords Party, his images capturing moments of everyday beauty and solidarity in his home of East Harlem.
This conversation, as well as the others, can also be found in the Greater New York exhibition catalogue. In their wide-ranging conversation, this intergenerational group of artists explores the continued political potential of archiving, creating counternarratives, and excavating the hidden histories of New York City and beyond. We hope the conversation will also serve as a tribute to Maristany’s lifelong commitment to supporting young artists and fostering social change through his art.
—Jody Graf, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1
You will know when you’re kicking butt because you will be creating a whole bunch of enemies.
Greater New York 2021 is on view at MoMA PS1 through April 18.
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