The Kitchen, a New York alternative space with a reputation for showing cutting-edge performance, video, and sound art over the past 50 years, has picked Legacy Russell as its next executive director and chief curator. Russell, who is currently associate curator of exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, joins the Kitchen in September.
Since starting as an associate curator at the Studio Museum in 2018, Russell has accrued a following as one of the leading scholars focused on Black and queer identity as it informs digital art-making. For the Studio Museum, she has curated solo shows for Dozie Kanu and Chloë Bass, as well as presentations of works by Garrett Bradley and Michael Armitage that appeared at the Museum of Modern Art. She also organized an exhibition of works by Studio Museum artists-in-residence that went on view at MoMA PS1 last year. (During the Studio Museum’s closure to construct its new building, it has partnered with MoMA and MoMA PS1 to mount exhibitions.)
Russell’s writings have also found a large audience. Her most recent book, Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto, theorized a new kind of cyberfeminism informed by Black and queer artists, and was named one of the best books of 2020 by the New York Times. She is currently at work on another book, Black Meme, which examines “the copying and transmission of blackness-as-memetic-material.” An essay by Russell on the work of artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley appears in the current issue of Art in America, which was guest edited by critic and Gagosian director Antwaun Sargent.
In a statement, Russell said, “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. I’m honored to join The Kitchen in shaping an art-future that is experimental, risky, playful, joyful, intersectional, and sustainable.”
Russell’s appointment at the Kitchen is yet another sign of the Studio Museum’s importance within the U.S. art scene. Over the past few decades, it has acted to a feeder institution for the nation’s top museums, putting emerging curators such as Naomi Beckwith, Naima J. Keith, and Christine Y. Kim on a track to stardom. In a statement, Thelma Golden called Russell “one most recent of the brilliant arts professionals who have risen in their careers at the Studio Museum.”
The Kitchen, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, has given an array of major artists—from Dara Birnbaum to Sondra Perry—some of their first solo exhibitions. Its last director, Tim Griffin, departed his post at the end of last year. He had led the art space for nearly a decade.