Transhistoria, Queens, USA, 2012

Transhistoria is a temporary intervention for the Guggenheim Stillspotting NYC series, a two-year multidisciplinary project exploring the city’s five boroughs. Every three to five months between June 2011 and October 2012, “stillspots” were identified, created, or transformed by architects, artists, designers, composers, and philosophers into public tours, events, or installations. SOIL was assigned Queens.

Jackson Heights, in the borough's center, is a quintessential melting pot. With over 130 languages spoken and a community of people from around the world, Queens is considered one of the most diverse neighborhoods in New York. How does one find calm and solitude in such a multifarious environment? With roots largely elsewhere, how do residents achieve a sense of domesticity and localness in this post-national circumstance? Individual and cultural narratives play a cathartic role in producing, retaining or regaining identity and finding a home in this new world.

Rather than reiterate well-documented reports on migration that stress economic or political motives for relocation, Transhistoria explores individual and cultural narratives, such as the flight from problematic family situations or escape from suffocating social structures. These types of everyday stories open up a different inquiry in the search for identity and home away from home.

SOIL offers visitors an opportunity to hear transformative personal histories through a series of accounts commissioned from many renowned Queens-affiliated narrators, including writer René Georg Vasicek, and rappers Himanshu Suri and Ashok Kondabolu of Das Racist.

Each created a story about personal transition and finding familiarity and tranquility in Jackson Heights. During four weekends in the spring of 2012, neighborhood residents recounted their stories around several local “stillspots” as varied as residential living rooms, performance venues, and private courtyards.

Guggenheim Museum, New York

Queens, USA


N/A m² / N/A sf

Completed 2012

Florian Idenburg, Jing Liu, Elisabeth Berntsen

Image credits
Photography: Iwan Baan
Video: Akira Yamada