Each year, the Barnard Library recognizes scholars with a $2,500 award to subsidize research in the Barnard Archives and Barnard Zine Library, as well as make use of the collections, equipment, and support of the Barnard Library and Milstein Centers. This year's winner is Naima Green '11.
Naima Green is an artist and educator working in photography, performance, and text. Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, including at Fotografiska New York, Smart Museum of Art, MASS MoCA, International Center of Photography, Houston Center for Photography, Bronx Museum, BRIC, ltd los angeles, Gallery 102, Gracie Mansion Conservancy, Shoot the Lobster, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Arsenal Gallery. Her works are in the collections of MoMA Library, International Center of Photography Library, Barnard College Library, National Gallery of Art, Teachers College, Smart Museum of Art, and Decker Library at MICA. She earned an MFA in Photography from ICP–Bard where she was awarded the Director’s Fellowship (2016, 2017), an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA from Barnard College.
Skin Contact is an emergent digital archive centering intimacy and contemporary queer life — featuring multiform commissioned pieces and portraits of queer womxn, trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people. This collaborative project expands upon Green’s exhibition Brief & Drenching, at Fotografiska New York (August 2020 - April 2021) and Pur·suit (2018 - ongoing), a deck of 54 playing cards inspired by Catherine Opie’s Dyke Deck.
In Skin Contact, Green composes a sensuous archive of photography, playlists, love letters, poetry, audio recordings of interviews, and meditations — creating a generous and expansive digital offering. In addition to new Pur·suit portraits from Green’s time as a Recess Session Artist in 2020, Green includes ambient images from her personal collection that were largely made with an iPhone. Individuals who opted to share a glimpse of their everyday lives further enrich the archive — visually, sonically, and textually. Spilled across the digital space are call-and-responses like “How are you feeling right now?” / “luscious and still.” / “How have you changed?” / “My pace is slower but steadier.” Visitors are encouraged to take their time while exploring Skin Contact. To reflect, rest, get lost, be found or feel seen regardless of their connection to the project.
Naima describes Skin Contact’s thesis -
Similar to the way I think of portrait making, Skin Contact won’t remain the fixed representation of a person or a community; it becomes a nuanced part of an expanding story. When considering the movement and lives of the people I’m photographing and working beside, I wonder where is the pleasure in our lives? And how much of that pleasure, prior to COVID-19, existed in space together — at the beach, at a party, in a home — in community. I want to make sure that the people I love, and the people I don’t know, are celebrated, that our lives are pictured in those subtle pleasantries and intimacies of the day-to-day.
At Barnard, Green will think through (& make) zines with some of the material in the archive, record new oral histories, and commission new work.
Previous Barnard Library Research Award winners:
2020/21: Mick Powell, Survived & Punished NY Chapter
2019/20: Kirsty Fife, Maya Garfinkel, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs
2018/19: Nadja Eisenberg-Guyot and Denise J. Murphy
2017/18: Desiree Abu-Odeh, Andrea Adomako, Kyara Andrade
2016/17: Lena Palacios, Susana Sepulveda
2015/16: Agatha Beins, Magdalena Olszanowski, Aiesha Turman
2014/15: Michelle Moravec, Joshunda Sanders, Yin Wang