For Immediate Release: August 12, 2021
ARTWORKS BY TWO NYC PUBLIC ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE ACQUIRED BY MAJOR GLOBAL CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS, INCLUDING THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, THE JEWISH MUSEUM, BROOKLYN MUSEUM, QUEENS MUSEUM, AND LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
New York, NY - The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Commission on Human Rights, Department of Records and Information Services, and former Public Artists in Residence (PAIR) Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya and Julia Weist have announced that artworks created as part of their PAIR residencies have recently been acquired for the permanent collections of major global cultural institutions. PAIR is a municipal residency program created by the Department of Cultural Affairs that embeds artists within New York City government to propose and implement creative solutions to pressing civic challenges. Components of Weist’s work, Public Record, have been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, Jewish Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and Queens Museum, all in New York City. Phingbodhipakkiya’s work, part of her I Still Believe in Our City series, has been acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
“The Public Artists in Residence program is built on the belief that artists, with their unique ways of working and seeing the world, can make major contributions to how we approach the provision of public service,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals. “We’re honored and overjoyed for these two PAIR artists for this recognition of their work. Amanda’s I Still Believe in Our City captured the national mood in a moving, immediate way, giving people in New York and across the country something to rally around in support of our Asian friends and neighbors. Julia Weist’s Public Record is an eye-opening, exciting exploration of our municipal archives as another type of public space – something that took on added meaning as physical public spaces were closed during the pandemic. We welcome this exposure to broader audiences for both projects, and look forward to continuing to work with artists through this pioneering residency program.”
“It has been incredibly gratifying to see how people have been moved and inspired by Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s art,” said Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights. “The heart of I Still Believe in Our City was about reminding Asians and Pacific Islanders of our power—that in the face of unprecedented anti-Asian violence and discrimination, we stand in our strength and resilience. I Still Believe in Our City has reached more people than any campaign in the Commission’s over 60-year history. The inclusion of this work into the Victoria and Albert Museum’s permanent collection marks a unique moment in history and will serve to inspire Asians and Pacific Islanders around the world for generations to come.”
“Julia Weist’s creation documents decades of city government’s comments and actions around art. She used her experience doing research at the Municipal Archives as the basis for her work. She combined the mechanics of the process—reviewing catalog entries and submitting call slips—with copies of the historical documents. And in a unique feature, her work is accessible to the public by request using the OpenRecords Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) portal. We are pleased to have hosted Julia Weist for this innovative program,” said Pauline Toole, Commissioner, Department of Records & Information Services.
“I Still Believe in Our City is deeply personal,” said 2020-21 PAIR Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya. “In each face, a loving compilation of myself, my friends, family and community members. I wanted the figures to feel familiar. They could have been the daughter who was jeered and cursed at, the uncle who was shoved and spit on, the grandmother who was hit in the face. But instead of seeming afraid or upset, these guardians stand tall and proud. People tell me that seeing these defiant Asian faces makes them feel safe. It makes them feel like there’s room here for Asian American voices, journeys and dreams. Millions of my Asian brothers and sisters have found peace and pride in my artwork. It’s found its way onto the sides of buildings, on magazine covers, bus shelters and cultural centers. It’s a humbling and nearly unfathomable thought. Art has the ability to soothe grief, amplify joy, and drive people to action. I am deeply grateful that my art does that. I want it to continue to invite allies to stand with us. I want it to be a rallying cry to keep fighting for systemic change, more resources for our communities and our shared futures. This work is a vibrant reminder of the beauty and resilience of our people. We have been here and we are not going anywhere. We are here to speak. We are here to stand. We are here to stay.”
“I’m thrilled that works from the Public Record series are being acquired for permanent museum collections,” said 2019-20 PAIR Julia Weist. “These artworks explore the role that collecting plays in the creation of a shared public context. Their preservation by museums extends that line of inquiry into new spaces and systems.”
Phingbodhipakkiya’s I Still Believe in Our City was created as a testament to the vibrant resilience of New Yorkers, and specifically honors Asian and Pacific Islander (API) and Black New Yorkers in the face of racial injustice, xenophobia, and COVID-19-related bias, discrimination, and harassment. The series was initially announced in November 2020 and installed at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue subway station before being displayed across the city on bus shelters, billboards, protest signs, and more, over the course of the artist’s residency with the Commission on Human Rights. Following a continued rise in anti-Asian bias attacks across the U.S., an unreleased image from the series was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, and new installations building on the themes and visuals of the series were commissioned for Times Square, Lincoln Center’s campus, and in Boston and other cities.
In June 2021, the artist announced that the Victoria and Albert Museum acquired five I Still Believe campaign’s bus shelter posters, which had originally appeared in 76 neighborhoods across NYC where anti-Asian bias incidents occurred. The pieces were acquired for the museum’s permanent collection through its Rapid Response Collecting program - which acquires contemporary objects in response to major moments in recent history - and were immediately included in the museum’s new gallery. I Still Believe in Our City has also been acquired by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Weist’s Public Record is a series consisting of 11 individual photographic prints featuring archival material from DORIS’s collection. While developing the series, Weist explored how city government creates and preserves municipal records for the public’s benefit. Using what she learned, Weist integrated city protocols and resources into the making of the prints, triggering regulations requiring that the artworks be kept and made available alongside other government records from 2020. Digital versions of the artworks were released as a result of Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests submitted by the public in spring 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. By inviting people to access the pieces through government systems, Weist encourages her audience to consider the contemporary and historic records maintained by the City of New York as an alternative form of public space. This re-imagining of public information as a civic commons took on a heightened urgency during the pandemic, a dynamic the artist explored in an essay published in the journal n+1 when the artwork was initially released.
Three of the 11 prints that make up Public Record were acquired by major NYC museums: Demonstration was acquired by MoMA, Role was acquired by the Queens Museum and Limits was acquired by The Jewish Museum. All three acquisitions were gifts of Seth Stolbun and the Stolbun Collection.
The Department of Cultural Affairs’ PAIR program is a municipal artist residency program that embeds artists in city agencies, inspired by artist Mierle Ukeles’ decades-long residency with the NYC Department of Sanitation that she initiated in the late 1970s. Each year, artists are selected to embed with a number of New York City agencies; Weist was embedded within the NYC Departments of Records and Information Services (DORIS) as part of the 2019-2020 PAIR cohort, and Phingbodhipakkiya joined the Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) during the 2020-2021 PAIR cohort.
The application period for the 2021-2022 PAIR placements concluded in June 2021. More than 200 artists applied for residency positions with the NYC Department of Design and Construction, Department of Records and Information Services, and - in a direct continuation of Ukeles’ legacy - the Department of Sanitation. The 2021-2022 PAIR placements will be announced later this year.
About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/culture.
About NYC Commission on Human Rights
The NYC Commission on Human Rights enforces the NYC Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, gender, national origin, immigration status, age, and over 25 other protected categories in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Learn more or visit the Commission’s website at NYC.gov/HumanRights.
About NYC Municipal Archives
The NYC Municipal Archives preserves and provides access to the historical records of the government of the City of New York. It is one of the largest repositories of historical government records in North America. Collection highlights include 9 million historical vital records, more than 2 million still images and thousands of hours of film and video footage, 400 years of legislative and mayoral documents, and the most comprehensive collection of records pertaining to the administration of criminal justice in the English-speaking world. Documentation of the city’s infrastructure include the exquisitely detailed drawings of the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park, two of the greatest public works achievements of the 19th century. The Archives online gallery provides research access to over 1.7 million items digitized from the vast holdings.