Tourmaline, an artist and activist, premiered Salacia at the High Line in the summer of 2019. By the same time this year, the short film had made it to the Museum of Modern Art's collection—and both film and creator had found themselves propelled onto the international stage. Now, Chapter NY hosts the artist's first solo show, "Pleasure Garden," in an offsite pop-up space befitting the occasion: namely, a chance to view Salacia [pictured ablove, a film still]. Alongside this, the artist unveils newer photographs that further delve into issues around race, history, and queerness.
Salacia follows the life of Mary Jones, a Black trans sex worker in 1830s New York City and resident of Seneca Village. Once a Black land-owning community, the town was leveled to begin the development of Central Park and subsequently faded from collective memory. The film transports us to Seneca Village in its heyday, as Mary Jones approaches a pivotal moment in her life. Poignantly, Tourmaline splices Jones's story with found footage of LGBTQ activist Sylvia Rivera on Manhattan's West Side piers, which, more than a century later, had become a refuge for displaced queer and trans people.
Tourmaline, Salacia, 2019. 16 mm, sound Duration: 6:04. Courtest of Chapter NY.