Our Inner Quarters: Spaces of Work & Care

October 31 – December 8, 2023

Our Inner Quarters: Spaces of Work & Care, curated by Yin Q and Chong Gu, explores the work and history of Red Canary Song (RCS). Founded in 2017 and based in Flushing, Queens, RCS is a grassroots collective of migrant massage workers, sex workers, and allies of the Asian diaspora.

The exhibition is a reconstruction of spaces of body work and ritual that members of RCS create individually and in community. It traces the origins and core community of RCS through installation, everyday objects, oral history recordings, video, artwork, and a library of zines and books by RCS core members and allied community members.

On view are the original table altars constructed in Washington Square Park in March 2022 for the 8LIVES Vigil, which memorialized the victims of the Atlanta shootings. The altars feature portraits of the victims’ eyes painted by a migrant Korean massage worker.

Currently, Red Canary Song is composed of migrant massage workers, sex workers, and allies of Asian diaspora, but most of the original RCS members were/are Queer kink sex workers and scholars. Our Inner Quarters includes a kink space or “dungeon” that reflects the work and lifestyle of many of the collective’s founding members, as well as a reading library featuring publications by RCS scholars and allies.

Curtains are the shields for intimacy and privacy, simultaneously conveying the complex weave of vulnerability and resilience that body workers experience. Inside, three massage tables occupy the space: two are adorned with tools that massage workers and kink/sex workers use in their respective labors, and the third is an altar of our combined totems.

Oral history, personal possessions, zines, and video offer a deeper connection to the individuals and community of Red Canary Song. Images of the workers’ faces and bodies are purposely excluded, but personal narratives encourage the visitor to interact with settings and objects that may or may not be familiar.

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