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Tourmaline, "Pollinator", 2022. Collection Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean. Donation 2022 – Baloise Group © Tourmaline / Courtesy the artist and Chapter NY
Tourmaline

Collection presentation

Mudam Luxembourg presents recent works by Tourmaline, the recipient of the Baloise Group Prize 2022. This exhibition is the first solo presentation of Tourmaline’s work in a European museum and is centred around the digital video Pollinator, which was donated to the museum by the Baloise Group.

Tourmaline is an artist, writer and transgender activist working mainly with video and photography to create elaborately staged scenes that honour living and historical figures of LGBTQI+ movements and queer culture. Using found footage and other archival material to investigate these subjects, the artist’s approach is influenced by scholar Saidiya Hartman’s notion of ‘critical fabulation’, which privileges fiction and speculation in (re)writing marginalised histories that have been erased or mis-transmitted in official sources. In these works, narrative tools are used for their politically empowering potential and help trace an imagined genealogy of Black queer figures, in which Tourmaline can also be inscribed.

Pollinator (2022) employs shots of Tourmaline dressed in early twentieth-century costumes while walking through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Edwardian period rooms at the Brooklyn Museum. These are interspersed with archival footage showing the memorial of Marsha P. Johnson, an activist and performer who helped form Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) and was a figure of the Stonewall uprising of 1969. As Tourmaline wanders in the gardens and brushes against the plants, she acts as a ‘pollinator’ by carrying matter on her clothes. These sensual scenes are interrupted by other ones shot by Tourmaline showing her father singing, laughing and smoking a cigarette, as well as found footage of interviews with people who knew Johnson, one of which holds a picture of her smiling. This montage acts as a joyful reminder that Johnson was a nurturing figure for gender non-conforming and trans people in New York: she was, metaphorically speaking, a ‘pollinator’. While evoking queer grief, Tourmaline’s work privileges a celebratory perspective to imagine an alternative history and future for Black transgender communities – an approach that recalls what historian Robin D.G. Kelley defines as ‘freedom dreaming’.

Biography
Tourmaline (b. 1983, Roxbury, Massachusetts) is one of the two recipients of the 2022 Baloise Group Prize. Her work has been presented within significant survey exhibitions, such as the 2022 Venice Biennale The Milk of Dreams (2022); Mountain/Time at the Aspen Art Museum (2022); The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2021) and Critical Fabulations at MoMA, New York (2021). Her video installation Mary III of Fame (2022) is currently on view at the 59th Venice Biennale. Tourmaline’s work is held in major public and private collections such as The Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MoMA, New York; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and Tate Modern, London.

Credits

Location:
Mudam Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Pavilion
Curator:
  • Marie-Noëlle Farcy, assisted by Line Ajan

Baloise Group Prize 2022
The Baloise Group Prize is awarded annually at Art Basel to two artists exhibiting within the Statements section of the fair. Founded in 1999, the prize has focused its support on young artists reserving a part of the award to acquire and donate one or an ensemble of works by the artists to two of the partner museums. Mudam Luxembourg has been one of the partner museums for the Baloise Group Prize since 2015.