Friday, June 22, 2007


Generation 1.5 is an exhibition of the work of eight artists who emigrated in their teenage years. The term “generation 1.5” is used in some communities to describe those who are neither adult immigrants nor American born – the in-between generation of people who moved from one country to another between the ages of 12 and 18. Already undergoing physical and intellectual change during these formative years, 1.5 generation individuals also experience a change in context, in language, in culture. The premise of the exhibition is that the relationship of a 1.5 artist to their adopted country is different than that of a person who immigrated when they were much younger or older. Generation 1.5 is curated by Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art, Tom Finkelpearl and Chief Curator, Valerie Smith. The exhibition will be on view at the museum from June 10 - December 2, 2007. The participating artists are: Ellen Harvey, Pablo Helguera, Emily Jacir, Lee Mingwei, Shirin Neshat, Seher Shah, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Nari Ward.

Some of the issues surrounding the 1.5 generation center on immigration, cultural dislocation and memory, hybridity, acceptance, exile and perhaps a certain type of transgression: critique of their native country or their adopted country, a freedom to be revolutionary or assimilated in both places. However, these issues are not explicitly addressed in all the works. In some cases, they are subtly implied. Generation 1.5 is a term that is contested and defined differently by sociologists, but the curators have taken the meaning that they first heard in Queens – those who came between the ages of 12 and 18. While many of the artists are classic “1.5ers” who came in their teen years, others traveled extensively throughout their lives. With the exception of Ellen Harvey’s, A Whitney for the Whitney at Philip Morris/Altria or I Can Be An American Visionary Too! (2003) all the works are new, reworked or never-before-exhibited in New York.

Generation 1.5 is made possible with funding generously provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Crystal Windows and Door Systems, Ltd., the Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan, R.O.C. in Collaboration with Taipei Cultural Center, TECO in New York, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Acknowledgments and Credits

We are deeply indebted to Ellen Harvey, Pablo Helguera, Emily Jacir, Lee Mingwei, Shirin Neshat, Saher Shah, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Nari Ward for their participation in 1.5 Generation both with their work and with their ideas with they have shared with us on several occasions, which contributed greatly to shaping the concept of this exhibition. While almost all the artists were well known to us when we began our research, one, Seher Shah, has become a new friend thanks to Jaishri Abichandani, artist, 1.5er and former staff member of the Queens Museum, who generously suggested we contact her to make a studio visit. We would like to thank Jaishri for steering us in Seher’s direction. We would like to thank all of Nari Ward’s wonderful colleagues who worked so tirelessly on his installation: Joseph Ayres, Claudio Blanco, Curtis Carman, Emmy Catedral, Sam Freeman, Marvin Hernandez, Martin Muñoz, and Steven Rose. Special thanks also goes to Paul Geluso who worked and the recording and post production often well into the wee hours of the night and morning on Lee Mingwei’s and Pablo Helguera’s installations. The Forest Hills Chamber Players: Krystof Witek, Violin I, Ragga Petursdottir, Violin, IIJunah Chung, Viola, and Katherine Cherbas, Cello all created a beautiful sound for Mingwei’s Quartet Project, which was skillfully captured on video by Kasia Witek.
Finally all the preparators and staff who worked on different aspects of the exhibition and closely with the different artists: Hitomi Iwasaki, Arnie Kanarvogel, Dominenick Di Pietrantonio, Eric Liu, Pete Pantaleo, Nancy Rattenbury, Jill Reynolds, Krista Saunders, Hiro Sato, Erin Sickler, Dan Spitzer, Louise Weinberg. A big thank you to the galleries who lent their support to the exhibition: Alexander and Bonin, Bose Pacia, Jeffery Deitch, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, Lombard-Fried Projects, Luxe and neugerriemschneider, Berlin. 1.5 Generation could not have been realized without generous contributions from The Department of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan, R.O.C. in collaboration with Taipei Cultural Center, TECO in New York and the Crystal Foundation.

Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director
Valerie Smith, Cheif Curator and Director of Exhibitions

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Generation 1.5 - What's Your Story?

As part of Generation 1.5, the QMA would like to hear your personal 1.5 experiences. Are you 1.5? Do you know someone who is 1.5? How would you define 1.5?

Please contribute your item as a comment below. Selected contributions will be highlighted in the content area, and may even be published as part of the Generation 1.5 exhibtion book later next spring.

CONTRIBUTOR: Tom Finkelpearl

My grandmother, Emma Kerenyi Finkelpearl, was born in Koposvar, Hungary in 1896, moved to the U.S. and attended high school in New York City then moved back to Hungary at the end of high school, around 1913. There she was an English language tutor. She attended college and some conservatory in Hungary and Vienna, and moved back to the States in 1920 at the age of 24. Here she worked as a translator at a department store in Pittsburgh for the large number of Hungarian workers who had recently arrived to work in the blue collar jobs. She was not classic 1.5, but fit the bill in many ways as she made a couple of transitions in her formative years, and she was multi-lingual, able to attend conservatory in German and work as a translator and tutor in both Hungarian and English. Her love was the piano, and she earned a living teaching generations of mostly Jewish kids in Squirrel Hill how to play the instrument and how to behave. She always loved European culture and Mozart was her God. To me she certainly held the place of the transitional figure on the Finkelpearl side of the family. She was the link back to Eastern Europe. She loved to speak in other languages, if simply to discuss something in German with my uncle that she did not want the kids to understand. Certainly she thought of herself as American. She loved her adopted country, especially the progressive politics of FDR --whom she adored. But I could always sense her Hungarian nationalism as well – the underlying notion that Hungarians were smarter and sharper than everyone else (especially Russians). Her identity was clearly more complicated than my other grandmother – who could track her family’s American roots to before the revolutionary war. Grandma Finkelpearl was an Eastern European Jewish American, at a time where that identity meant outsider status. Don’t forget that America’s quota-based immigration laws were passed in the 1920’s with the intent of keeping people like her -- Eastern European Jews -- out. These laws were in effect until 1964. I think of my grandmother in relation to my wife’s family in which there are no 1.5ers. Her parents came from China as adults and she was born here. This created a very common cultural and linguistic divide between the Chinese parents and the American kids. In contrast, my grandmother was both/and.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Poets in the Galleries: Sarah Husain

Born in Elmhurst Hospital, Queens, with a slight heart murmur, I began to cross borders at the age of eight months. My mother in the late 70’s was a newly arrived immigrant working in some sewing factory, patching up those past dreams left behind of becoming a doctor. She used to say every crossing usurps a price paid by a severance followed by a long stitching. She went into labor at work and returned to those same machines the week she came home from the hospital where I was kept monitored for a month. Everyday she would take two buses from her work to see me thru the Plexiglas before making her way home. After spending seven months with various babysitters, my mother decided that I, too, should be sent “home” to Pakistan, where I would be better taken care of by her own mother and sisters. With a five, four and a three year old already at home it was difficult for her to manage a newborn and a life of stitching.
In Pakistan I grew up in an Indian haveli, those huge marble homes full of aunts and uncles and their children living amidst an open-air verandah. In the middle of this verandah sprung a well in which my cousins and I would take long showers full of laughter, splashing the cold crisp water abundantly at each other.
Who knew one day this well would dry.
This is the first time I’m trying to write this kind of a story; attempting to compose a linear narrative. Why I’m beginning at Elmhurst Hospital, I don’t know. Is it because I, now, thirty years later, live on the same street? But it’s not where my story begins, at birth. I go back before my own memory.
Both my parents were born in India whose families migrated to Pakistan during partition, part of one of the largest movements of people in modern history. Yes, it had costs. No land lets go of its cultivation without usurping a price—in this case it demanded blood. Why begin in blood? It seems to be all around, cheap, wasting, spilling, draining, forming, breaking, building—nations, cultures. Perhaps such histories still haunt us all the way here, seven worlds and seven oceans apart. My father couldn’t live up to his bourgeoning nation—Pakistan; his poetry was filled with poverty so he decided to move farther away, to become an international banker, instead. He would send money home every month despite my mother who couldn’t be bothered. This is where her children were growing roots; she had no desire to return. Her dreams of becoming a doctor she stitched her way to becoming a teacher. She knew the clay of her home would fill and heal the hole in her newborn’s heart, so she packed my bags with lots of powdered Similac and sent me on my way…home.
Yes, I grew up in a home with a well in the middle of our house and an outhouse without a flush. We had no refrigerator; my drinking water was cooled by the clay ghara and food was always fresh, just enough for every meal. Rice would arrive on camel backs and my aunt would milk her cow in the evening, before the sun set on her return home from the school she and her sisters started in the early 70’s. In Sialkott, that’s how I was educated.
At the age of eight I crossed yet another border and moved with my nuclear family who was living in Hong Kong. That’s another story. Later I moved to Sudan, that’s another dream. Seasons of migration keep coming; my mother has taught me well to stitch so I can keep telling stories.
By Sarah Husain copyrighted, August 2007