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A stencil designed by Michael Anderson (all photographs by the author for Hyperallergic except where noted)

Editorial note: This is the second of two posts dedicated to the history of PAD/D (Political Art Documentation & Distribution) an activist group of New York based artists and writers active between 1979–1988.

Exterior of MoMA QNS, Long Island City, New York

Briefly used as the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition space during the renovation and rebuilding of the museum’s Manhattan venue (2002–2004), MoMA QNS now serves as the museum’s storage and archival space.

The PAD/D archive is comprised of over 2,700 items, split into two sections: Regular files made up of documents, flyers, photographs and slides, and large flat files for posters, prints, and stencils.

Aside from material related directly to PAD/D, countless files are dedicated to socially conscious arts organizations active between 1979–1990. Alongside familiar names such as the Guerrilla Girls, Group Material, Gran Fury, and the Art Workers Coalition (AWC), one will discover a myriad of lesser known collectives such as Angry Arts and Carnival Knowledge. Were it not for the efforts of PAD/D, the histories of many of these groups would have gone undocumented. The archive was formally donated to MoMA in 1994 by PAD/D members Barbara Moore and Mimi Smith. The photographs below represent a tiny portion of the archive.

Special thanks to Jennifer Tobias, librarian at the Museum of Modern Art, for her help with my research.

Assorted archive files

The original index system devised by PAD/D members Barbara Moore and Mimi Smith in 1994, has since become part of the archive. Visitors can now search for material using MoMA’s online ‘DADABASE

Barbara Moore (left) and Mimi Smith (right) examine original stencils from the archive

Alfred Martinez, “Comfort ?…in the Streets” (1987), screenprint

Rachael Romero, “New York-Balance Your Brain” (1986), screenprint

The logo of the NFS/Anti-gentrification committee, one of PAD/D’s ten subcommittees

Anton Van Dalen’s stencil of a burning house. Numerous stencils were used for the NFS Committee’s outdoor exhibits in the Lower East Side

T-shirt designed by the NFS/Anti-Gentrification committee

Exhibition proposal flyers produced by PAD/D’s “Not For Sale (NFS)/Anti-gentrification committee (click to enlarge)

Cover of New York Magazine, May 28, 1984

Assorted protest photographs documenting PAD/D’s “Image War on The Pentagon” project, part of the “Hands Off El Salvador” march in Washington D.C., May 3,1981

Flyer for PAD/D’s “Death and Taxes” exhibition, April, 1981.

Poster for PAD/D’s “Death and Taxes” exhibition

Herb Perr & Irving Wexler, “New Money” (1981)

Photograph from the opening of “Death and Taxes” at the 345 Gallery, 1981

Interior of the “Death and Taxes” exhibition

One of numerous letters addressed to PAD/D.

Flyer for an exhibition of art work inspired by the “Chicago Conspiracy Trial” of 1969

Letter from the Guerrilla Girls to Lucy Lippard (1986). The group admonished Lippard for using the term ‘terrorist’ in an article whilst thanking her for her interest (annotations by Lippard)

Poster designed by Jenny Holzer for an exhibition curated by the Guerrilla Girls

Letter from the Guerrilla Girls addressed to PAD/D member Mimi Smith, February 1989

Flyer by Artists Meeting For Cultural Change (AMCC)

Ephemera from an archive file dedicated to ‘Angry Arts’

Lucy R. Lippard with lettering by Mike Glier, poster for “Red Peril, the Return of the Anti-commies: From Red-Baiting to Red-Hating in Film 1950 to Now”, a film-screening and panel event, February 1982

Lucy R. Lippard, poster for “Acting Out: The First Political Performance Art Series”, held at the Elizabeth Irwin High School, March 1981

Mimi Smith, “No Taxes For Bombs” (1981), xerox poster (courtesy of Mimi Smith)

MoMA QNS (45-20 33 Street in Long Island City, Queens) is open Mondays, 11am–5pm, by prior appointment. 

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Tiernan Morgan is the former producer of Hyperallergic. His articles have examined New York’s 1980s art scene and artist resale royalties. He also collaborates with artist and regular Hyperallergic contributor...

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