The Kitchen, the nonprofit arts house in Chelsea, celebrates its 50th anniversary this 12 months. Its timeline doubles as a historical past of downtown experimentalism: it has helped reveal artists like Laurie Anderson and Simone Leigh, whereas constantly privileging analysis practices, adventurous codecs and cross-disciplinary change.
Now Legacy Russell turns into government director and chief curator in September, succeeding Tim Griffin. Russell has been the affiliate curator of exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem since 2018.
A dynamic curator with a robust curiosity in efficiency, digital and internet-based practices, Russell expanded the Studio Museum’s funding in these fields. She can also be a theorist with an acclaimed 2020 ebook, “Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto,” and a second ebook, “Black Meme,” forthcoming.
In a phone interview, Russell described rising up in the East Village, frequenting what she referred to as the “broad constellation” of downtown progressive artwork areas together with the Kitchen, in addition to the membership scene. From the tradition of these venues, she stated, she realized that producing artwork occasions is not only about programming but in addition “thinking about how to center the body in doing that work — the human beings who do the care and carrying.”
She earned a graduate diploma in artwork historical past from the division of visible cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. She might be the Kitchen’s first Black government director, stated Griffin, her predecessor.
In a phone interview, Griffin lauded Russell’s “macrocosmic understanding of the art field,” including: “She creates visionary relationships among artists.” And in an e-mail, Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum, described Russell as “a leading writer, theorist and curator of her generation, vitally alert to the current moment and fearless in her exploration of future possibilities.”
Russell stated the Kitchen’s longevity testifies to the power of avant-garde artwork even in a metropolis that has grown costlier and sophisticated for artists, and has been buffeted by the pandemic.
Her function, she stated, could be to hold that momentum ahead.
“I think deeply about intersections — across Blackness, queerness, feminist histories — and the future possibilities of taking risks,” Russell stated, “and how art institutions can play a critical role in making that possible, by giving artists the support to take monumental risks.”