Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room

New Museum, New York, United States
22 Jun 2016 - 18 Sep 2016

Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room

Simone Leigh, Landscape, from the series "Anatomy of Architecture," 2016. Digital collage. Courtesy the artist.


Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room will consider the possibilities of disobedience, desire, and self-determination as they manifest in resistance to an imposed state of deferral and debasement. Whereas patience, pragmatism, and austerity often underscore political debates surrounding the failures of public health care, Leigh finds inspiration in parallel histories of urgency, agency, and intervention embraced by social movements, black communities, and women. Focusing specifically on an expanded notion of medicine, Leigh’s residency and exhibition at the New Museum will reference a wide range of care environments and opportunities—from herbalist apothecaries, to “muthi” [medicine] markets in Durban, South Africa, to meditation rooms, to movement studios—and will involve a variety of workshops and healing treatments that she refers to as “care sessions.” Continuing her involvement with professionals in the field of holistic health that began with her 2014 Creative Time project Free People’s Medical Clinic, The Waiting Room will feature a new installation and a private, “underground” series of classes for community partners. Additionally, a series of talks, performances, and events conceptualized as medicinal dialogues on aging, disobedience, abortion, healing, and toxicity will be offered. Taking into account a history of social inequality that has necessitated community-organized care, traditionally provided by women, The Waiting Room will suggest that creating a space for wellness may require both the making of a sanctuary and an act of disobedience against the systemic enactment and repudiation of black pain.

The Waiting Room will inaugurate the Department of Education and Public Engagement’s annual R&D Summers, a residency and exhibition program that will foreground the Museum’s year-round commitment to community partnerships and to public dialogue at the intersection of art and social justice. The exhibition is curated by Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement; Shaun Leonardo, Manager of School, Youth, and Community Programs; and Emily Mello, Associate Director of Education; and will be accompanied by a broadsheet designed by Nontsikelelo Mutiti.

Queries can be directed to waitingroom@newmuseum.org.


Care sessions
All care sessions will be open to the public free of charge and will take place on the fifth floor. Admission will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Register in the New Museum lobby on the day of the event.

Afrocentering with Aimee Meredith Cox
Saturdays: June 25, July 23, August 6, August 27, September 17, 11:30am–12:30pm
Thursdays: July 14, July 28, August 18, August 25, 7–8:30pm

Massage with Malik K. Bellamy (20-minute sessions)
Sundays: June 26, July 3, July 24, August 2, September 4, September 18, 1–4pm

Herbalism: Learning How to Heal Yourself with Plants: Classes with Karen Rose
Saturdays: July 9, July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6, August 13, 2–3pm

Community Acupuncture with Julia Bennett (20-minute sessions)
Thursdays: July 7, August 11, September 8, 6–9pm
Saturdays: July 16, August 13, September 10, 4–6pm


Public programs

Please visit the New Museum website for further information, including ticket prices and locations, for the following public programs.

Rashida Bumbray: Motherless Child Set
Thursday, June 23, 5–7pm
Curator and choreographer Rashida Bumbray and guests will perform a cycle of black folk songs to celebrate the opening of Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room.

Chitra Ganesh: On Disobedience
Thursday, June 30, 7pm
Artist Chitra Ganesh will present a lecture exploring the notion of disobedience as it has been mobilized in political protest and social movements outside of the United States.

Herbalism: Learning How to Heal Yourself with Plants: Gallery Talk with Karen Rose
Thursday, July 21, 7pm
A specialist in Eastern and Western herbal medicine, Karen Rose will discuss how the energies of plants can be harnessed to improve well-being.

María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Remedios: Performance Rituals as Healing
Saturday, July 23, 3pm
Artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons will negotiate narratives of pain, loss, and resilience through a performative meditation on survival.

Lorraine O’Grady: Ask Me Anything About Aging
Thursday, August 4, 7pm
Fielding questions about aging, artist Lorraine O’Grady will consider the benefits of intergenerational word-of-mouth information and strategy-sharing among women.

On Abortion: A Conversation
Thursday, September 1, 7pm
Simone Leigh will organize an event addressing historic and contemporary narratives surrounding the reproductive health and rights of black women through dialogue with invited guests.

Vanessa Agard-Jones: On Toxicity
Saturday, September 10, 3pm
Anthropologist Vanessa Agard-Jones will discuss her forthcoming book, Body Burdens: Toxic Endurance and Decolonial Desire in the French Atlantic, which considers pesticides, sexual politics, and postcoloniality in Martinique.


Underground partnerships

The Waiting Room Underground will provide a space for in-depth engagements out of public view, offering intimate classes to affiliated New Museum partners. Home Economics is a series of courses led by Karen Rose, Aimee Meredith Cox, and Kaoru Watanabe, which is supported by Leigh’s A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art. The series is geared toward creating an arsenal of skills to sharpen the critical thinking, self-awareness, and strategic planning of young black women in New York. Watanabe will also lead workshops with young adults from the Hetrick-Martin Institute—an organization that provides services for LGBTQ youth—on drum-making and taiko drumming. Working closely with Cox, Rose, and Museum staff, youth in the New Museum Teen Apprentice Program will assist with exhibition programs as Waiting Room Apprentices and participate in private workshops as part of the internship program.

Support for Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room



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