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38. Transhistoria

Location: Jackson Heights, Queens
Program: Installation
Status: Opened Spring 2012
Team: Elisabeth Berntsen

Jackson Heights in the center of Queens is a quintessential melting pot. With 138 languages spoken and a community of people from around the world, the borough is considered one of the most diverse neighborhoods in New York. How does one find calm and solitude in such multifarious environment? Largely with roots 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 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 enquiry in the search for identity and home away from home. SO – IL 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 will create a story about personal transition and finding familiarity and tranquility in Jackson Heights. During these four weekends in April and May, neighborhood residents will recount their stories around several local stillspots as varied as residential living rooms, performance venues, and private courtyards.

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