By Naima Green
Pur·suit represents a missing data set (1). Artist and researcher, Mimi Onuoha describes our living through a time of “unprecedented data collection,” and yet even with the over-collection of data there continue to be gaps of information – what she calls “blank spots in the data ecosystem... spaces that are curiously devoid of data.” Pur·suit is in the interest of queer and trans people, of people of color, and of groups that continue to be marginalized. In its physical form, it’s a 54 card deck with portraits of queer womxn, trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people. It helps complete an image of the world that we live in.
In its digital form, depictions of over 100 people will comprise the first stage of a digital archive created to expand and preserve narratives of queerness and its many evolving identities. Offering a glimpse into complex worlds through photographs, letters, poems, and audio clips the archive will create space for folks to share themselves however they choose.
I stumbled upon Catherine Opie’s Dyke Deck at the New York Public Library while doing research for my MFA thesis, All the black language. Dyke Deck is a set of poker cards that playfully looks into the lives and performances of 90s lesbians. After ordering a deck, I combed through each card curious as to why I had never seen or been taught about this work. It was made between 1990 and 1995 in the Bay Area through an open call casting. The final deck was created through a partnership between Opie and MoCA Los Angeles. By 2017, the deck felt both new and old, still radical and iconic. I knew it would find a place in my own work as I wanted to add to the ethos of queer cultures. With Opie’s blessing, I embarked on reimagining the Dyke Deck into a 2018 East Coast experience.
Pur·suit is a celebration of queer communities. I want to reflect my queer community, comprised mostly of women of color, and how our experiences are (or most often are not) represented. I continue to think about how our communities are named and by whom. In Brooklyn, I’m fortunate to see queer families, partnerships, and friendships of all kinds on a daily basis. I’m also reminded that our community is an oasis. It is my hope that Pur·suit can be that for all who use these cards; that it will serve as a reminder of queer faces and experiences, play, love, and a testimony that we are here.
Featured Images (left to right):
Naima Green, Jenna, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.
Naima Green, Vanessa for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.
Naima Green, River, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.
Naima Green, Angel + Shira, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.
Naima Green, Karen, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.
Naima Green, Muna for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.
Naima Green, Yên for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.
Naima Green, Megan for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.
Naima Green, J.S. for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.
Naima Green, Ciarra for “Pur·suit,” 2018-present.
Naima Green, Yunique, from “Pur·suit,” 2018–present. Courtesy of the artist.
Naima Green is a visual artist and educator currently living in Mexico City. She holds an M.F.A in Advanced Photographic Studies from ICP–Bard, an M.A. in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in Urban Studies and Sociology from Barnard College. Green presented two solo exhibitions in 2018 – All the black language and A Collective Utterance. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, MASS MoCA, the International Center of Photography, Houston Center for Photography, Bronx Museum, BRIC, Arsenal Gallery, and Macy Gallery. Green has participated in residencies at the Bronx Museum, MASS MoCA, Vermont Studio Center, and is the recipient of the Myers Art Prize at Columbia University.
Her artist books are collected by the MoMA and International Center of Photography Libraries.
Green’s work has been published in Artsy, Arts.Black, Cultured, The Fader, Feature Shoot, Frontrunner Magazine, Hyperallergic, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Nylon, Spot Magazine, and SPOOK, amongst others.
Pur·suit is a deck of a playing cards and a forthcoming archive of queer womxn, non-binary, trans and gender nonconforming people.