Curated by Azra Dawood
City of Faith: Religion, Activism, and Urban Space looks under the surface of New York’s image as a secular city and maps the complex and often surprising relationships that connect religion to public space. The exhibition focuses our attention on how religion engages the city at a public level—in “secular” streets and sidewalks, waterfronts, and other liminal spaces. Focusing on South Asian American and other communities who have faced religious profiling and surveillance—particularly after 9/11—the exhibition critically examines the nature of secularism in the city, how it has historically favored Protestantism while rendering other communities hyper-visible, and how these latter communities assert their right to the city through art and collective action.
Religious Diversity in Queens
Working with curator Azra Dawood, we selected 40 images of religious buildings and structures located in Queens. These included churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, ashrams, durgas, and gurudwaras from neighborhoods across the borough. Some of the buildings are purpose-built by their present congregations, others are older religious buildings converted to use by new faiths, while still others are adapted from storefronts, houses, and factories.
The installation, shown at the far left in this photo, consisted of a projection of a line map of Queens with the neighborhood indicated by an orange block, a large orange polygon, and 3-5 photographs of religious buildings located in that neighborhood. From one slide to the next the line map remained static, the neighborhood block and polygon changes, and new images appear. The complete cycle comprised 12 slides with 40 images in total.
The selected images are part of a longer term project on religion and space in multiethnic Queens.