in News | 30 NOV 23

Empowering Spaces: Red Canary Song's Migrant Justice Exhibition at Storefront NYC

Storefront for Art and Architecture and frieze magazine are thrilled to announce the selected proposal for ‘On the Ground: Open Call’, titled Flower Spa: Solidarity Outside In by multidisciplinary collective Red Canary Song

in News | 30 NOV 23

Building on their exploration of intimate bodywork spaces as hubs of collective activism for migrant massage workers, sex workers, and allies of the Asian diaspora, Red Canary Song (RCS) utilizes Storefront’s gallery to engage both the migrant body care workers in Flushing, Queens and Chinatown, Manhattan. For RCS, the massage parlor represents a multifaceted space: a home, a stage, a confinement and a battleground for decriminalization and migrant justice.

The works on view will delve into entangled practices of placemaking while navigating issues of commercialism, fetishization, domesticity, exotification, policing, violence, self-care and survival. In this context, Storefront itself evolves into a site of advocacy while addressing the nuanced risks and liberatory power associated with the interior and exterior aspects of labor and their respective communities.

The exhibition will open at Storefront for Art and Architecture on 20 January 2024. Throughout this month-long presentation, Red Canary Song will offer community-based programs, including body care workshops, karaoke evenings, fundraisers and a Lunar New Year celebration for Chinatown spa workers.

Flower Spa: Solidarity Outside In by Red Canary Song was selected by a jury including Naomi Beckwith, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Tom Finkelpearl, Social Practice Teaching Scholar-in-Residence, The City University of New York; Danielle A. Jackson, Curator, Artists Space; Sohrab Mohebbi, Director, SculptureCenter; Manuela Moscoso, Executive Director and Chief Curator, CARA; and Felicity D. Scott, Professor of Architecture, Director of the PhD program in Architecture (History and Theory), and Co-Director of the CCCP program, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University.

Red Canary Song, 2023
Red Canary Song, 2023. Courtesy: Storefront for Art and Architecture; photograph: PJ Rountree

About Red Canary Song

Red Canary Song’s (RCS) work centres on mutual aid, community care and decriminalization of labour. 

In November 2017, RCS formed in response to the death of Yang Song, a migrant Chinese massage worker who fell to her death from a fourth-floor window during a police raid. RCS rallied to protest the police. They provide mutual aid to the family of Yang Song and other Asian massage and sex workers and advocate for the decriminalization of unlicensed massage work and sex work. 

During the pandemic, RCS supplied workers with mutual aid including groceries, legal assistance, funds and translation services. In March 2021, a gunman targeting Asian massage workers killed eight people in Atlanta. RCS responded to the tragedy by gathering communities together to mourn and protest. RCS vigils have brought together thousands of workers and allies across a range of ethnic, gender, economic and political orientations to participate in art activations and rituals of healing. 

About Storefront

Storefront for Art and Architecture amplifies ideas that contribute to the understanding of the built environment through artistic practice. Since its founding in 1982, Storefront has produced and presented work at the intersection of art and architecture through exhibitions, events and public programming.

On the Ground is Storefront’s year-long research project and exhibition series about New York City’s ground floor. Through a close look at the urban typology of the storefront, this expansive endeavour presents newly commissioned artistic explorations and dialogues about the critical role storefronts play in shaping public life. The project will unfold through three exhibitions, a radio show, an open call, a public program and a thematic reader. The open call is a strategy used by Storefront since its early years to engage a wider public with this theme and serve as a platform for new ideas.