Transhistoria by SO – IL
April 14–15, 21–22, 28–29; and May 5–6, 2012
In the northwest section of the New York City borough of Queens, Jackson Heights was founded as a “garden community” in the first half of the 20th century. The neighborhood was a leader in developing utopian ideals of high-density housing in direct contrast with the traditional, over-crowded, and noisy New York apartment buildings common during the time. Over the past decades the neighborhood’s housing stock has risen dramatically, making it one of the more densely populated areas of the city. Jackson Heights counts 138 languages spoken among its many global communities and is also one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in the United States.
For Transhistoria, the third edition of stillspotting nyc, the architects at Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO – IL) explore how one finds calm and inner peace in a bustling environment such as Jackson Heights. How do its residents, who often have roots elsewhere, achieve a sense of home and familiarity in a post-national living situation? And what urged them to leave their old households and countries in the first place?
Official histories on migration tend to stress economic or political motives for relocation without giving much attention to individual and cultural narratives. One important but largely ignored aspect, however, remains the flight from problematic domestic situations. Think of a young woman who leaves to escape her strict mother, a transgender individual who feels underappreciated by town elders, or a man who never returns home to his family after stepping out for a pack of cigarettes. These types of everyday stories open up a different enquiry in the search for identity and home away from home.
In Transhistoria, SO – IL dives deeper into transformative personal narratives through a series of stories commissioned from Queens-affiliated writers, including authors such as Roger Sedarat, René Georg Vasicek, Maria Terrone, Erik Baard, Premilla Nadasen, Nicole Steinberg, Alan Briceland, and rappers such as Himanshu Suri & Ashok Kondabolu of Das Racist. Each will create a story about personal transition and finding home in Jackson Heights. During these four weekends in April and May, Jackson Heights residents will recount these stories around six neighborhood stillspots as varied as residential, commercial, and public spaces.
Visitor Information, Ticketing, and Directions
In two-hour self-guided tours starting from the Jackson Heights–Roosevelt Ave. station, Transhistoria visitors will encounter four of these personal transhistories, selected from a series of around six indoor and outdoor spaces that frame the special experiences of these stories of migration, displacement, and finding familiarity and identity in a new place.
A ticket to Transhistoria grants access to four of six possible locations for readings in Jackson Heights, Queens, initiating from a stillspotting ticket kiosk just south of the Jackson Heights–Roosevelt Ave transit hub at 40-40 75th Street. View a map of the stillspotting ticketing kiosk.
Hours are Saturdays and Sundays, April 14–15, 21–22, 28–29, and May 5–6, 11am–7pm with the last tour starting at 5pm. Visitors will receive a map, directions for a self-guided tour, and a wristband for access to four sites that they may choose from the six sites open daily. A full visit to four sites takes approximately two hours, and visitors may customize their route or make other stops along the way as there is no suggested itinerary.
Discounted rates are available for groups of ten or more. Advanced registration is strongly suggested. A program for families will be offered as part of Transhistoria on Saturdays April 21 and May 5 from 12–3pm with a story written expressly for families performed in a public space in Jackson Heights.
Stillspotting nyc is organized by David van der Leer, Assistant Curator, Architecture and Urban Studies, with Sarah Malaika, Stillspotting Project Associate, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
The Guggenheim Museum gratefully acknowledges the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), Urban Design & Art for assistance; as well as DOT’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Group for help with mapping of the Transhistoria bike tour in Queens.
The Guggenheim also extends thanks to the following community partners:
Office of U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley
Office of New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm
Moriarty Duerkes Family
82nd Street Business Improvement District
Haiko Cornelissen Architecten
Jackson Heights Beautification Group/Friends of Travers Park
Jackson 34 Realty Corp
J.B.C. Associates, LLC
Jewish Center of Jackson Heights
La Gran Uruguaya
Mark Misk, Nash Builders, LLC
Queens Economic Development Corporation
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO – IL)
Founded in 2008 by Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu, the American architecture firm SO – IL is an ideas-based practice with a global reach. With a strong sense for detail, as well as the organization of space on a large scale, SO – IL combines philosophies and design aesthetics from Asia – especially Japan and China – with those from Europe. In 2010, SO – IL was selected as the winner of MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program for its Pole Dance design, which provided a playful yet pleasing aesthetic experience in PS1’s courtyard in Queens. SO – IL designs projects of varying scales, including a master plan for a cultural campus in Seoul; a wedding chapel in Nanjing, China; student housing in Athens; and a sound pavilion for the Get It Louder festival in Beijing.
Erik Baard (b. 1968, Queens, NY) is a writer living in Queens, published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The Village Voice, among others. He seeks to create inclusive natural and peaceful experiences. For example, he founded the Long Island City Community Boathouse and the largest urban orchard program in NYC.
Fr. William Alan Briceland (b.1932, Syracuse, NY) has been Chaplain at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens since January 1996. He was ordained in 1965 and taught high school for 31 years with the last 20 at Xavier High School in Manhattan.
Ashok Kondabolu (b. 1985, Booth Memorial Hospital, [now Flushing Hospital] Queens, NY) plans on living on a communal farm when the world economy collapses, although he is currently a member of rap group Das Racist and lives in Brooklyn.
Premilla Nadasen (b. 1967, Durban, South Africa) is a writer, activist, and historian. She teaches at Queens College and is the author of Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the U.S. She is currently writing a book on domestic worker organizing.
Ishle Yi Park (b.1977, New York, NY) was the Poet Laureate of Queens (2004–2007). She has performed her unique blend of poetry and song across the United States, Cuba, New Zealand, Singapore, and Korea. Ishle’s first book The Temperature of This Water, is now in its second printing.
Roger Sedarat (b. 1971, Normal, IL) is the author of two poetry collections, Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, and Ghazal Games. He teaches poetry and literary translation in the MFA Program at Queens College, City University of New York.
Nicole Steinberg (b. 1982, Flushing, NY) is the editor of Forgotten Borough: Writers Come to Terms With Queens, and the author of a poetry chapbook, Birds of Tokyo. In 2005, she founded EARSHOT, a New York reading series dedicated to emerging writers.
Himanshu Suri (b. 1985, LaGuardia Hospital, Queens, NY) is a rapper in Das Racist and a community organizer with Seva NY. He also runs Das Racist’s label Greedhead Music.
Maria Terrone (b. 1951, New York, NY), a lifelong resident of Jackson Heights, is the author of the poetry collections A Secret Room in Fall and The Bodies We Were Loaned, and a chapbook, American Gothic, Take 2. Her poems have appeared in leading literary journals and nearly 20 anthologies.
Lisa Thiesing (b. 1958, New York, NY) is an award-winning author and illustrator of almost 40 children’s books, including The Viper, Me & You, and All Better. A former preschool teacher, Lisa loves to sneak educational concepts into charming, humorous, and occasionally scary stories.
René Georg Vasicek (b. 1969, Austria, to Czech parents) is a Czech-American writer and teacher living in Astoria, Queens. He is the recipient of a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Fellowship in Literature.
stillspotting nyc PDF
Living in a big city can be fun. There’s so much going on—lots of people, traffic, and things to do. But where can you go to get a break from all the activity? The Guggenheim Museum’s project stillspotting nyc has asked artists and architects to answer that question and to create “spots” for us to enjoy “stillness.”
In 2011 and 2012, stillspotting projects took place across New York. To get you thinking about stillspotting, try this activity.