Ilana Harris Babou at the Queens Museum

After the Plaster Foundation,
or, "Where can we live?"

After the Plaster Foundation, or, “Where can we live?” is an exhibition of twelve artists and artist groups with roots in New York City asking critical questions about home, property, and the Earth, and who has access to these things under capitalism. 


“Where can we live?” is a question that features in all our lives, but is experienced unevenly. In 1972, underground performance legend Jack Smith was evicted from his home, a Soho loft he called “The Plaster Foundation.” In the years that followed, New York’s economy shifted decisively from manufacturing to finance and real estate, and a new era of “predatory inclusion” that further undermined urban Black communities got underway in cities across the U.S. Pointing to documented histories of racial exclusion as well as the contradictions of the enduring myth of artistic bohemia, the works in the exhibition—whether satirical, speculative or grounded in the work of organizing—suggest ways of resisting the reach of capital into our homes, and innermost lives.


To engage audiences with these profound political and philosophical issues, many artists focus on our city as a crucible of activity, point in a global network, or documentary subject. Some celebrate the resilience of long-time residents, recent immigrants, and artists—many of whom combine these identities in various ways. Other artists reach back and forward in time, place, and space, touching on broader questions of possession and use of land, ideas of hospitality, self-reliance and debt, helping connect the show overall to systemic inequities painfully exacerbated today. 

After the Plaster Foundation, or, “Where can we live?” features works by Jennifer Bolande, Ilana Harris-Babou, Heather Hart, Simon Leung, Shawn Maximo, Sondra Perry, Douglas Ross, Peter Scott, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Caroline Woolard, and Betty Yu, and artifacts from the collection of Museum of Capitalism.


After the Plaster Foundation, or, “Where can we live?” is organized by Larissa Harris, Curator, with Sophia Marisa Lucas, Assistant Curator, and Lindsey Berfond, Assistant Curator.