In the summer of 2016, Gabrielle took our project of asking people for personal guided tours–which we’ve done in London, Brooklyn, Harlem, Oakland, and Buenos Aires–all the way to Jamaica, Queens, as part of her summer residency at No Longer Empty’s exhibition Jameco Exchange. Engaging with passersby on the street in Jamaica, she invited people to participate in her makeshift photo studio for a portrait and to answer the question, “Where would you take me on a guided tour?” On the imaginary tours residents said they would take Gabrielle on, Jamaica Ave got a lot of love. Other destinations ranged from the local pizza place all the way to Paris, France. Also figuring significantly in the imagined geography woven by the residents of Jamaica were Lower Manhattan, a birthplace in Rhode Island, and a small town in Minnesota visited just once.
As part of this project to spur conversations about the relationships between neighborhoods, we brought to Jamaica the “guidebooks” from Intersection | Prospect Heights, which feature individuals’ meaningful places in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. When people perused the guidebooks in Jamaica, they elicited comments such as “I know how that feels…”, “I go there to shop!”, and of course, “I think gentrification is happening everywhere…” These responses mark linkages that we might not expect, and suggest the possibilities, and necessity, of building solidarity across spaces in one city.
Intersection | Jamaica also built on one of our much earlier works, Playground from 2002, in which Gabrielle asked East Harlem residents the very same question–“Where would you take me on a guided tour?” Taking place in a Harlem playground, one participant said he’d take her to Jamaica, Queens — and finally, twelve years later, she got there.
“I’d take you to Jamaica, Queens. 165th Street. I didn’t go to Jamaica Queens until I was fourteen years old. But, Jamaica Queens is like home to me. Still, everybody there knows me, the people haven’t changed much.” – Pierre Rene, the Bedazzler