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Early in This is an Address, the influential trans activist Sylvia Rivera shares a few important lessons: Fight for something, and perhaps even more crucially, “stop being comfortable.” These are words to live by, but in the context of the late 1990s in New York City, Rivera’s points stemmed from a specific sense of urgency. Facing eviction from their encampment along the piers — a longtime haven for many queer and trans folks — she and several other houseless friends were grappling with the looming threat of once again being displaced for the sake of gentrification.
For director Sasha Wortzel, this landscape along the Hudson River is “one particular site that can tell a much larger story about queer history in New York, but also about […] ideas around ‘urban renewal’ and policing and surveillance.” She began conceiving this film while going through archival material for Happy Birthday Marsha!, a poetic tribute to Rivera’s close friend and fellow Stonewall veteran Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson, which she co-directed with the artist Tourmaline.
In This is an Address, Wortzel layers footage from Randy Wicker’s 1995 interview with Rivera over her own spectral documentation of the dismantling of the Gansevoort Destructor Plant, a former garbage incinerator and one of the last vestiges of the old Meatpacking District — pre-new Whitney and outposts of high-end designers like Marni. Wortzel, a former education staffer at the Whitney, remembers observing the plant’s destruction from the museum’s offices and feeling the uncanny echoes of centuries of communities forcibly displaced, beginning with the Lenape people.
This is an Address affirms the artist-filmmaker’s interest in illuminating the ways that “the past haunts our contemporary landscape,” as she explains. The double entendre of the title likewise makes plain Wortzel’s tributary aims; it’s not just an affirmation of the piers as a community where Rivera and her peers practiced collective care in the face of discrimination, but also a loving dedication. “First and foremost, this film is for Sylvia, and the other people who lived and have lived along the piers […] who found something there.”
Enjoy exclusive access to the film below, ahead of its debut on Field of Vision. You can also find a version with audio descriptions here, narrated by Happy Birthday Marsha! co-director Tourmaline.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
In 1850, when Dr. Robert W. Gibbes commissioned J. T. Zealy to make daguerreotypes of persons held in slavery in and around Columbia, South Carolina, for Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz to use in support of his theory that African people were a separate species, daguerreotypes were at the height of fashion.
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.