Monday, June 4, 2007

Director's Foreword

A couple of years ago I was sitting in the library at the Queens Museum strategizing our outreach to the Korean community in Flushing with some local activists. We were discussing what sort of art first generation immigrants might appreciate as opposed to the second generation, and who might be most likely to come to the Museum. One woman, Eun Joo Kim, suggested that we might want to think seriously about marketing to “generation 1.5.” I had never heard the term before. Kim explained that it was a direct translation of a term in Korean that refers to people who came to the United States between the ages of 12 and 18. She suggested to me that these “1.5ers” were the swing generation and therefore unusually open to cultural offerings from both Asia and America. Over the next three or four months I met a number of creative people who fit the 1.5 category – people from all over the world – and I decided it would be an interesting idea for a show especially in Queens, the oft-hailed epicenter of American hybridity and diversity.

Meanwhile, down the corridor in the curatorial department, Valerie Smith was pondering what sort of project she might undertake after her successful Joan Jonas and The Artist’s Garden After Modernism exhibitions. She had been thinking for some time about a show of mid-career artists, a group show of talented and accomplished creators. She began to mention names like Nari Ward, Shirin Neshat, Lee Mingwei, and Rirkrit Tiravanija, who we both know and both admire greatly, and by coincidence, all 1.5ers. I remember a conversation half way down the hall between the library and the curatorial office when I asked Valerie if we could simply combine our ideas into a single show, and she agreed. We would co-curate a small group show of 1.5 generation artists. We would give artists ample space to spread out instead of casting the net widely for every 1.5er we could contact. We would not organize an exhibition about immigration, but allow for a wide range of work that explicitly, implicitly, or obliquely addresses 1.5ness. And finally, we would allow for dialogue around the topic rather than close the discussion when the exhibition opens. Thus we came on the notion of a catalogue produced after the exhibition, built first as a blog.

Over the next year, after a number of studio visits and numerous late-day coffee meetings, we added the other four artists – Pablo Helguera, Ellen Harvey, Emily Jacir, and Seher Shah. Ellen and Emily are artists we have worked with before while Pablo and Seher are the newcomers. It really has been a great pleasure for Valerie and myself to work with these incredible artists.

Tom Finkelpearl

2 comments:

junghwa said...

Hello,
Mr., Tom Finkelpearl. I've been really enjoying reading your book, Dialogues in Public Art. It’s a text book of my class. I'm a Pratt’s graduate student majoring Arts and cultural management. As a Korean, not immigrant, the term, 1.5 generation, is so familiar to me. I used to hear what they had struggled with in their teens, even 20s such as identity, or culture shocks. The theme and view of this exhibition are really initiative idea which suggests new point of view to people whether they are immigrants. I really hope this show gets more attention from not only community people but many new yorkers in other boroughs. It’s a great exhibition both artists and art works, too. I’ll look forward next exhibitions.

junghwa said...

Hello,
Mr., Tom Finkelpearl. I've been really enjoying reading your book, Dialogues in Public Art. It’s a text book of my class. I'm a Pratt’s graduate student majoring Arts and cultural management. As a Korean, not immigrant, the term, 1.5 generation, is so familiar to me. I used to hear what they had struggled with in their teens, even 20s such as identity, or culture shocks. The theme and view of this exhibition are really initiative idea which suggests new point of view to people whether they are immigrants. I really hope this show gets more attention from not only community people but many new yorkers in other boroughs. It’s a great exhibition both artists and art works, too. I’ll look forward next exhibitions.