High Line Channel artist Tourmaline is joined in conversation by Kimberly Drew to discuss Tourmaline’s film Salacia on the occasion of Pride Month 2019.
In the style of Black fantasy and folktales such as Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly, Tourmaline’s work for the High Line, Salacia, takes place in Seneca Village—a 19th-century free Black community in upper Manhattan that was demolished to create Central Park in 1855. Salaciafollows Mary Jones (born 1803), a Black transgender New Yorker as she discovers her power in the face of heightened systemic racism and transphobia.
Tourmaline is an activist, filmmaker, and writer. Her work highlights the capacity of Black queer and trans people and communities to make and transform worlds. In her films, Tourmaline creates dreamlike portraits of people whose stories tell the history of New York City, including gay and trans liberation activists, drag queens, and queer icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera (Happy Birthday Marsha, co-directed with Sasha Wortzel, 2018), Miss Major (The Personal Things, 2016), and Egyptt LaBeija (Atlantic is a Sea of Bones, 2017). Tending to the histories and haunts of disabled, poor, Black, queer, and trans life that echo and vibrate beneath neighborhoods and cultural landmarks, Tourmaline’s films undulate between narrative and non-narrative and illuminate the mundane acts that form the fabric of historical events and mutually supportive communities.
Kimberly Drew is a writer, curator, and activist. Drew received her B.A. from Smith College in Art History and African-American Studies. She first experienced the art world as an intern in the Director’s Office of The Studio Museum in Harlem. Her time at the Studio Museum inspired her to start the Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art, sparking her interest in social media. Drew’s writing has appeared in Vogue, Glamour, W, Teen Vogue, and Lenny Letter and she has executed Instagram takeovers for Prada, The White House, and Instagram. Drew recently left her role as the Social Media Manager at The Met. Her upcoming book, “Black Futures,” which she is co-editing with Jenna Wortham is due in 2020. You can follow her at @museummammy on Instagram and Twitter.
Salacia is the first work in High Line Art’s newest format: High Line Originals. Part of High Line Channels, High Line Originals marks the first time High Line Art commissions new video work and is intended to support the work of local, emerging artists.
Salacia is co-commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum and High Line Art, presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
Lead support for High Line Art comes from Amanda and Don Mullen. Major support for High Line Art is provided by Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, and the Charina Endowment Fund. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson.