Reina Gossett

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Artist Statement

Working primarily in time-based media and often in collaboration, I mine existing archives or create new archives to address how my relationship with the past shapes my understanding of the present. My work considers figure/ground relations to act as a catalyst or boost to life beyond the veil: life deemed as inconsequential but exists as the very constitutional ground for the world as we know it.

Put another way I loudly & proudly instrumentalize images & movement of spaces/places transposed beyond the world, in the world but not of them; the feelings and aesthetics of life lived within institutions that make up the whole world and yet are seen and regulated and relegated to be outside of the world: the prison, the welfare office, the hospital, the queer club.

My current work “Happy Birthday, Marsha!,” created in collaboration with Sasha Wortzel is a short experimental film about transgender artist and activist, Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson and her life in the hours leading up to the Stonewall Riots. I am drawn to how she transformed violent place into a fantastical space where queer and trans people are free from the hostile realities of the outside world.

The script for Happy Birthday Marsha! is centered on research I’ve been doing, including interviews with people who knew Marsha the best and were present in the Village during the time of the riots.

But it is informed with my experience going through archives that so often what we come to know as facts or what we come in contact with inside an archive happens through a violent discerning process of whose lives are valuable to record, whose actions are important to note. I wanted to tell a story that wasn’t constrained by what these archives tell us I can say about their lives.  As the author Saidiya Hartman writes, I wanted to write a story “that exceeded the fictions of history…that constitute the archive and determine what can be said about the past.  I longed to write a new story, one unfettered by the constraints of legal documents,” because a lot of times those legal documents and facts exist as obstacles to telling the stories of lives that navigate the violences of historical erasure.

With that in mind, I set out to share a fuller scope of our social history that extends beyond when we were simply only oppressed or acted incredibly exceptionally.  I wanted to tell something much more complex that challenged the hierarchy of intelligible history and the archive that keeps our stories as trans and gender non-conforming people from ever surfacing in the first place.

I did this by locating the story in the intimate and everyday actions made by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson, and not to the actions & violences that happened to them. The story moves away from the more fact based work that I have done to record the lives of Sylvia, Marsha and STAR. More important to me than “who threw the first shot glass at the NYPD,” “who had a birthday party on what day” or even “who was present at what time and on what day during the days of the Stonewall rebellion” is giving space for the for the lives and relationships of people who have been treated as disposable when it comes to recounting history in general or even LGBT history to fill the screen and to be the focus, full of agency rather than simply victims of violence.

 

 

CV

EDUCATION 

B.A., Comparative Ethnic Studies, Columbia University, New York, NY
Graduated with honors; Cumulative GPA: 3.71; Major GPA: 3.93

RECENT EXHIBITIONS 

EMPHASIS REPEATS: Barbara Hammer, Andrea Geyer, Reina Gossett, and Alex Martinis Roe Bard College, Spring 2016.
GROUND SURGE: Communities Rising, Kean University Spring 2016.
BRING YOUR OWN BODY: TRANSGENDER BETWEEN ARCHIVES AND AESTHETICS Cooper Union, Fall 2016

PRIZES & AWARDS  

Recipient, Ackerman Institute Community Award 2016
Art Matters Grantee 2015
Astraea Foundation Global Arts Fund Grantee 2015

RESIDENCIES & FELLOWSHIPS 

Artist Residency, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council 20162017
Activist in Residence, Barnard College Center for Research on Women 20142018
Queer/Art/Mentor Fellow 20122013

PUBLICATIONS  

Scripts
Happy Birthday, Marsha! by Sasha Wortzel and Reina Gossett (Star People LLC 2015)
Books
Trans Cultural Production & The Politics of Visibility edited by Reina Gossett, Eric Stanley and
Johanna Burton (forthcoming New Museum & MIT Press Jan 2017)
Book Chapters
∙ Ana log Girls in Digital Worlds in Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities (forthcoming Routledge 2017)
∙ Foreword in Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the AntiSexual Violence Movement (Riverdale Ave Books 2016)
∙ Trans Women AntiViolence Project in Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Ant iSexual
Violence Movement (Riverdale Ave Books 2016)
Reports
Introduction to the Drivers of Incarceration in A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living with HIV, Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender & Sexuality Law (2014)
A Fabulous Attitude: Low income income LGBTGNC People Surviving on Love, Shelter and Knowledge, coauthored with the Welfare Warriors of Queers for Economic Justice (2010)

ESSAYS, REVIEWS, INTERVIEWS, BLOG POSTS
Justice for Jane Doe and the urgency of survival by Chase Strangio and Reina Gossett, reinagossett.com (June 2014)
We Demand #JusticeForJane Because No One Is Disposable! , reinagossett.com (May 2014)
Linking to Our Past, In Solidarity Vol. 1 Issue 4 (Winter 2014)
Happy Birthday Marsha Pay It No Mind Johnson , Crunk Feminist Collective (June 2013)A New Queer Agenda “Reclaiming Our Lineage: Organized Queer, GenderNonconforming, and Transgender Resistance to Police Violence” by Reina Gossett, Che Gossett, and A.J. Lewis, The Scholar &Feminist Online (2012)
An Open Letter for Gender SelfDetermination in /at OWS , Post Postcript Press (2011)
Abolitionist Imaginings: A Conversation with Bo Brown, Reina Gossett, and Dylan Rodriguez by Che Gossett in Captive Genders (ed. Eric Stanley and Nat Smith), AK Press (2011)

RECENT BIBLIOGRAPHY  

Dunham, Grace “ Stuck in Stonewall” The New Yorker November 2015.
Grant, Melissa Gira “After the T ransgender Tipping Point” Pacific Standard Magazine February 2016
Marks, Jenny “ Che & Reina Gossett” Mask Magazine April 2015
Ryan, Hugh “Happy Birthday Marsha Shows What the Gay Rights Movement Owes to Trans People” Vice Magazine December 2015.
Talusan, Meredith “ Buzzfeed interviews Reina Gossett & Sasha Wortzel about Happy Birthday, Marsha” Buzzfeed November 2015.
Tourjee, Diana “Happy Birthday Marsha” Dazed Magazine December 2015.
Walker, John “Connecting Stonewall to Baltimore: A conversation with some filmmakers exploring trans history” Fusion June 2015

RECENT WORK EXPERIENCE
Director & Producer Star
People, LLC New York, NY 5/15 to Present
Founded the production company Star People, LLC.
Fundraised and responsible for a $100,000 budget for preproduction, production and postproduction costs for Happy Birthday, Marsha!
Responsible for hiring of company employees during preproduction, production and postproduction including additional producers, line producer, location scouts, DP, art direction, actors, AD, editor, composer,colorists, sound designer and legal representation.
Directed the production with partner Sasha Wortzel, working closely with DP to execute shot list and actors to deliver performances.
Brought public visibility of the film through press interviews, photo shoots, and web content.

RECENT ARTIST TALKS  

Art + Feminism , Museum of Modern Art March 2016
Rethinking Gender and Revealing New Paths, Brooklyn Museum October 2015
Let’s piece our knowing together, New Museum September 2015
Why Am I Hot, Frieze Art Fair May 2015