- Manal Abu-Shaheen
- Vahap Avşar
- Jesus Benavente and Felipe Castelblanco
- Brian Caverly
- Kerry Downey
- Magali Duzant
- Golnaz Esmaili
- Mohammed Fayaz
- Kate Gilmore
- Jonah Groeneboer
- Bang Geul Han and Minna Pöllänen
- Dave Hardy
- Sylvia Hardy
- Shadi Harouni
- Janks Archive
- Robin Kang
- Kristin Lucas
- Carl Marin
- Eileen Maxson
- Melanie McLain
- Shane Mecklenburger
- Lawrence Mesich
- Freya Powell
- Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin
- Alan Ruiz
- Samita Sinha and Brian Chase
- Barb Smith
- Monika Sziladi
- Alina Tenser
- Trans-Pecos with 8 Ball Community, E.S.P. TV, and Chillin Island
- Mark Tribe
- Sam Vernon
- Max Warsh
- Jennifer Williams
- An Itinerary with Notes
- Exhibition Views
- A Distant Memory Being Recalled (Queens Teens Respond)
- Overhead: A Response to Kerry Downey’s Fishing with Angela
- Sweat, Leaks, Holes: Crossing the Threshold
- PULSE: On Jonah Groeneboer’s The Potential in Waves Colliding
- Interview: Melanie McLain and Alina Tenser
- Personal Space
- Data, the Social Being, and the Social Network
- Responses from Mechanical Turk
- MAPS, DNA, AND SPAM
- Queens Internacional 2016
- Uneven Development: On Beirut and Plein Air
- A Crisis of Context
- Return to Sender
- Interview: Vahap Avşar and Shadi Harouni
- Mining Through History: The Contemporary Practices of Vahap Avşar and Shadi Harouni
- A Conversation with Shadi Harouni's The Lightest of Stones
- Directions to a Gravel Quarry
- Walk This Way
- Interview: Brian Caverly and Barb Smith
- "I drew the one that has the teeth marks..."
- BEAT IT! (Queens Teens respond)
- Lawn Furniture
- In Between Difference, Repetition, and Original Use
- Interview: Dave Hardy and Max Warsh
- Again—and again: on the recent work of Alan Ruiz
- City of Tomorrow
- Noticing This Space
- NO PLACE FOR A MAP
- The History of the World Was with Me That Night
- What You Don't See (Queens Teens Respond)
- Interview: Allison Davis and Sam Vernon
- When You’re Smiling…The Many Faces Behind the Mask
- Interview: Jesus Benavente and Carl Marin
- The Eternal Insult
- Janking Off
- Queens Theatricality
It’s 1pm and the temperature is 90 degrees. My apartment feels even hotter. After a shower, I throw on a sleeveless shirt and baggy cutoffs and run out the door.
It’s 1:06pm and I’m cursing softly, waiting for the bus on a blazing stretch of sidewalk without a single tree or overhang. The leather on my sandals is stretching because of the heat.
It’s 1:12pm and I sigh with relief as I plop onto a bus seat. Water from my still-damp hair mingles with sweat and sunscreen, cooling me down too quickly under the turbo-charged air conditioning. I feel eyes on my bare skin and pull a sweater tight around me. I try to look straight ahead as the bus lurches through various neighborhoods—industrial Maspeth, Elmhurst, Flushing. The bus fills up. I feel nauseous. I can’t stop sweating.
Merriam-Webster defines “threshold,” the thematic umbrella of Queens International 2016, as “the point or level at which something begins or changes.” A better definition, sourced from the Oxford English Dictionary: “the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested.” Consumerist messages are constantly telegraphed to female-identified bodies that they are excessive—too big, too sexy, too hairy, too loud. Despite my feminist convictions, I feel excessive, blistered, wrung-out as I enter Queens Museum.
I watch Kerry Downey’s A Third Space (2014–16), an animated video of cutout shapes and liquid substances moving across an overhead projector. A voiceover considers the mechanisms of desire and moments of recent biopolitical history, from the first “test-tube baby” to photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1990 exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. A phrase sticks in my head: “one thousand openings from which I might leak.” A leak may be an ejaculation, poisoning, tears, snot: an uncontrollable suffusion of self into the world.
In the next room, Kate Gilmore’s video Beat It (2014) depicts a celebration of female excess. Offscreen the artist pounds her way, kicking and punching, into the frame, through layers of drywall printed with the title phrase. As she enters the frame, she throws pieces of the battered drywall atop a shelf through which the camera points, making a mess to make herself seen.
Near Downey’s video is Melanie McLain’s Prepersonal (2016). The partitioned, cubicle-like installation feels at once intimate and clinical. Featuring various compartments where one might place a body, the main attraction is an iPad video that shows dancers enacting simple movements near modern office furniture. A scratching-like soundtrack intends to evoke autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), a type of auditory-tactile synesthesia resulting in tingling feelings when hearing soft sounds, such as whispering.
When ASMR was defined in 2010, the word “meridian” was favored over “orgasm” in an attempt to sanitize a pleasure practice that might seem vulgar. Online ASMR videos, operating somewhere between therapy and erotic service, are produced widely (though not exclusively) by female-identified people. As a non-“tingler,” I find myself physically embarrassed by these videos. I recoil as I observe these baby-voiced, slow-speaking ASMR performers whispering, smacking their lips, holding their fingers to the camera, drumming upon surfaces. I try to imagine the mixture of gratification and awkwardness McLain’s work might incite in a tingler.
How does Queens International 2016 exceed the threshold of aesthetic disinteredness? This is one way of approaching the exhibition. From McLain’s work to spontaneous laughter elicited by the Janks Archive to empathy derived from Freya Powell’s sound piece Omniscience and Oblivion (2015), this show attempts to direct viewers inward and beyond themselves.
Wendy Vogel is an independent art writer and occasional curator based in Brooklyn. A former editor at Art in America, Modern Painters and Flash Art, she has contributed to Artforum.com, Art Review, frieze and Rhizome, among other publications.