New site-specific commission complements award-winning Activist New York exhibition, along with new sections highlighting AAPI communities and current activism On view beginning March 18, 2022
As a complement to its ongoing exhibition Activist New York, now entering its 10th anniversary, Museum of the City of New York will unveil a new immersive mural installation by artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya that illustrates the resilience of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) New Yorkers, and solidarity across activist movements. Incorporating contemporary images and historical activist figures Malcolm X and Yuri Kochiyama, Phingbodhipakkiya’s installation “Raise Your Voice” invites audiences to consider their own power for advocacy.
“Telling New York’s stories, and amplifying the voices of New York’s communities, is vital to our mission, and we’re grateful that the Puffin Foundation has supported Activist New York’s evolution over the past decade,” said Whitney Donhauser, Ronay Menschel Director and President of the Museum of the City of New York. “This powerful, immersive installation refuses to be ignored, offering a fitting entry point for visitors to engage with the history of New York’s thriving activist movements.”
“Raise Your Voice” features colorful floor-to-ceiling illustrations installed adjacent to Activist New York, and mixes selections from the artist’s 2021 public art campaign, “We Are More,” with new original artworks of activists Yuri Kochiyama and Malcolm X. Both Harlem residents, these leaders became friends and allies in their campaigns against racism and war, and inspired future generations of activists in the Asian American and Black liberation movements. Phingbodhipakkiya’s “We Are More” first debuted on electronic billboards and trash receptacles in Times Square as hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islanders surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. The depictions of everyday New Yorkers paired with images of historical figures represent the legacy of New York activists.
This immersive installation juxtaposes past and present to explore themes of repression and resistance; solidarity across movements; and how audiences can engage with activism in their own lives. By scanning QR codes in the gallery, or visiting raiseyourvoice.to, viewers are invited to respond to these questions or share their stories with others.
Along with the “Raise Your Voice” installation, Activist New York will also feature two new sections: One focuses on current NYC activism and the other on the activism of Chinese American laundry workers in the 1930s-1950s. The section on current activism will include masks used during protests, flyers relating to labor organizing and zoning debates, and handmade signs collected by the Museum during its open call for objects from the COVID-19 pandemic and summer 2020 anti-racism mobilizations.
The section on laundry workers explores how workers in the city’s hand laundries, demanded improved labor rights and resisted longstanding, legalized discrimination in the era of Chinese Exclusion and McCarthyism. Objects include an original hand laundry sign, photos of laundry workers who organized in Chinatown, and objects that illuminate how Chinese Americans fought against discrimination by City officials. With the recent rise in anti-Chinese discrimination and violence amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, these histories of repression and resistance remain as important as ever.
Now entering its second decade, Activist New York examines the ways in which ordinary New Yorkers have advocated, agitated, and exercised their power to shape the city’s—and the nation’s—future. Centuries of activist efforts, representing the full spectrum of political ideologies, are illuminated through a series of installations. The exhibition features historic artifacts and images from the Museum’s celebrated collection as well as pieces on loan from other repositories and personal collections, and serves as a learning tool for thousands of students and educators annually.
On March 30, Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya will join Carmelyn P. Malalis, former Chair and Commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, for a conversation at the Museum on the intersections of public art and human rights. Phingbodhipakkiya developed an earlier series “I Still Believe in Our City” (2020) as an artist-in-residence with the NYC Commission on Human Rights in order to address the rise in anti-Asian harassment and violence during the COVID-19 crisis. The series and subsequent projects appeared in public transit and other public spaces to reclaim space, resist stereotypes, and celebrate longstanding AAPI contributions to New York City past and present.
Activist New York and its associated programs are made possible by The Puffin Foundation, Ltd.
About Museum of the City of New York
The Museum of the City of New York fosters understanding of the distinctive nature of urban life in the world’s most influential metropolis. Winner of “Best Museum” in Time Out New York’s “Best of the City 2021” and multiple American Alliance of Museums (AAM) awards, MCNY engages visitors by celebrating, documenting, and interpreting the city’s past, present, and future. To connect with the Museum’s award winning digital content, visit www.mcny.org; or follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @MuseumofCityNY and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MuseumofCityNY
About the artist
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and activist. As artist-in-residence with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Phingbodhipakkiya’s art series celebrating the resilience of the AAPI community, “I Still Believe in Our City,” reached millions in New York City and worldwide through her Atlantic Terminal billboard and subway and bus shelter posters. In the wake of the Atlanta shootings in March 2021, art from the series appeared on the cover of TIME magazine. Her work has also been shown at the Cooper Union, Times Square, Google, Lincoln Center, and recognized by The New York Times, Fast Company, and The Guardian. Through large-scale murals, augmented reality (AR) experiences, sculptures, and participatory installations, her art reveals the depth, beauty, and power of marginalized communities.