On December 1st, 2018, the twenty-ninth annual Day Without Art—a national day of action in response to the AIDS crisis—the New Museum presented Stonewall is Not Here Yet, an afternoon of readings organized by artist Sharon Hayes and Chris E. Vargas on the occasion of the exhibition and residency “MOTHA and Chris E. Vargas: Consciousness Razing—The Stonewall Re-Memorialization Project.”
Vargas is the founder of the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art (MOTHA), a semi-fictional, transient institution that serves as a platform for exhibiting trans hirstory and cultural production. This iteration of the project at the New Museum explored Stonewall as a geographically, demographically, and historically contested site. In order to expand how this complex history is memorialized, Vargas invited an intergenerational group of artists to propose new monuments to the riots.
Stonewall is Not Here Yet was developed around Sharon Hayes’s proposal for the exhibition, in which she frames Stonewall as a site that is not bound by time or space, citing José Esteban Muñoz’s provocation in Cruising Utopia (2009) that “Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer.” Redirecting Muñoz’s statement, Hayes writes: “Stonewall is not here. Stonewall is not here yet.”
To commemorate the dynamic history of Stonewall, Hayes proposed a roving 1969 station wagon equipped with a speaker system for hosting itinerant readings and speeches across the country. Readings would always include legendary activist Sylvia Rivera’s powerful speech about Stonewall’s legacy, which she delivered at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in 2001, in addition to a wide range of materials from sources both pre- and post-Stonewall, pointing to the potentiality of all that Stonewall could be.
The event brought together artists, lawyers, poets, and activists—including Janani Balasubramanian, Eduardo Restrepo Castaño, Joan Gibbs, and Río Sofia—to share texts that reflect on queer liberation and futurity.