FOUNDED 50 YEARS AGO as a venue for video art, The Kitchen has evolved over the years and currently presents creative works across a range of disciplines, including visual art, video, film, performance, dance, music, theater, and literature, in collaboration with both emerging and established artists.

One of New York’s oldest nonprofit art spaces, The Kitchen’s emphasis on innovative, research-based, and experimental work dovetails with the curatorial practice of Legacy Russell. In her bio, Russell states that her “academic, curatorial, and creative work focuses on gender, performance, digital selfdom, internet idolatry, and new media ritual.”

Since 2018, Russell has served as associate curator of exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem. In September, she is joining The Kitchen as executive director and chief curator. Her appointment was announced earlier this month.

“As The Kitchen embarks on its second 50 years, we are incredibly excited to welcome Legacy,” Greg Feldman, board chairman of The Kitchen, said in a statement. “She is a visionary whose dynamic ideas and presence will advance and expand our continuing mission of bringing inspiring and game-changing perspectives to the artistic and cultural landscape of New York and beyond.”

“[Legacy Russell] is a visionary whose dynamic ideas and presence will advance and expand our continuing mission of bringing inspiring and game-changing perspectives to the artistic and cultural landscape of New York and beyond.” — Board Chairman Greg Feldman, The Kitchen

Growing up in New York’s East Village, Russell regularly visited progressive downtown art spaces, including The Kitchen. A spectrum of artists have presented work at the institution over the years, including Laurie Anderson, Charles Atlas, Kevin Beasley, Beastie Boys, John Cage, Philip Glass, Leslie Hewitt, Darius James, Joan Jonas, Bill T. Jones, Simone Leigh, Ralph Lemon, George Lewis, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Okwui Okpokwasili, Nam June Paik, Sondra Perry, Vernon Reid, Cindy Sherman, Talking Heads, Greg Tate, Cecil Taylor, Urban Bush Women, Danh Vō, Lawrence Weiner, and Anicka Yi, among many others.

“As we respond creatively, think radically, mourn deeply, engage critically, and hold tenderly this transformative moment in New York, across America, and around the globe, I am inspired by the ways artists show us how to do the work of reimagining and remaking our existence in the world,” Russell said in a statement.

“I’m honored to join The Kitchen in shaping an art-future that is experimental, risky, playful, joyful, intersectional, and sustainable.”

AT THE STUDIO MUSEUM, Russell led the highly regarded Artist-in-Residence program; encouraged greater attention toward performance and new media work; and stewarded a number of acquisitions by artists such as Diedrick Brackens, Aya Brown, Aria Dean, Lezley Saar, Sable Elyse Smith, and Tourmaline.

Her exhibitions at the Studio Museum include “Dozie Kanu: Function” and “Chloë Bass: Wayfinding.” Both staged in 2019 were the artist’s first solo museum shows.

During her tenure, Russell also curated exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and MoMA PS1, as part the Studio Museum’s ongoing partnership with the institutions. These exhibitions include “This Longing Vessel” (2020), a group show featuring 2019-2020 artists-in-residence E. Jane, Naudline Pierre, and Elliot Reed at MoMA PS1. In collaboration with Studio Museum Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden, Russell co-curated “Projects: Garrett Bradley” (2020) and “Projects 110: Michael Armitage” (2019) at MoMA.

More recently, Russell organized “LEAN” (2020), an online exhibition for Performa’s Radical Broadcast, a version of which was presented in-person at Kunsthall Stavanger in Norway in March 2021.

“I’m honored to join The Kitchen in shaping an art-future that is experimental, risky, playful, joyful, intersectional, and sustainable.”
— Legacy Russell

Previously, she served as European gallery relations lead at Artsy in London and creative producer and studio director at the Bruce High Quality Foundation in New York. Earlier, Russell held fellowships at Creative Time, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she was a programming assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has also had editorial roles at several publications, including BOMB, Apogee, Berfrois, and ArtSlant.

Russell earned a dual-major B.A. degree with honors from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., in art history and studio art and English and creative writing with a focus in gender studies. She also holds an MRes degree with distinction in art history from Goldsmiths, University of London with a focus in visual culture.

She has written and lectured extensively on the intersection of new media, performance, the Internet, feminism, and Black and queer visual culture. Last year, she published “Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto.” Her next book, BLACK MEME, is forthcoming.

Russell joins a long line of talented Studio Museum curators who have established their careers and honed their credentials at the Harlem institution. Notable recent examples include Naomi Beckwith, Naima Keith, Thomas J. Lax, Lauren Haynes, and Hallie Ringle.

Golden praised Russell’s new appointment: “On behalf of all of us at the Studio Museum, I congratulate Legacy Russell on her appointment to this new leadership position and applaud The Kitchen for its wisdom in making this significant and historic choice. Legacy is the most recent of the brilliant arts professionals who have risen in their careers at the Studio Museum and gone on to enrich other institutions throughout the country. I look forward eagerly to seeing where she will take The Kitchen in the next phase of its important history.”

Although she has yet to take the reins at The Kitchen, Russell sent out her first newsletter on behalf of the institution on June 16. In the message, titled The Future of Creative Experimentation, she said she was looking forward to September when she would welcome everyone for the fall/winter season.

“Throughout the years, The Kitchen’s capacity to keep building dynamically in a city that just keeps changing has continued to mark its excellence,” Russell said. “The institution remains an established force in shaping the future of creative experimentation, providing artists space to react, respond, and reply to monumental transformations in our city, our country, and our world.” CT

 

IMAGE: Curator and writer Legacy Russell. | Photo by Andreas Laszlo Konrath

 

FIND MORE about Legacy Russell on her website

 

BOOKSHELF
A mix of memoir, theory, and art criticism, “Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto” by Legacy Russell is a New York Times Best Art Book of 2020. In an interview with Artnet News, Russell said, “…the book is a demand to center certain questions tied to what artistry is and who is and is not made visible, looking at art as it exists through, and is inspired by, the internet and digital culture. It’s also about the body and the machine, looking at the generation that came of age in the ’90s, which went online because there were not always physical places that they could safely go to experiment and explore and think about who they wanted to become.”

 

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