NYU’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute takes you on a chilling tour of American eugenics propaganda with its 2014-15 public installation, “ ‘The Normal’: Images from the Haunted Files of Eugenics,” a series of 24 images and artifacts from the now-defunct Long Island facility and its professional allies.
" 'The Normal': Images from the Haunted Files of Eugenics,” a series of 24 images and artifacts from the now-defunct Long Island facility and its professional allies will be on 24-hour public display at NYU’s Kimmel Windows beginning Oct. 31. Massachusetts Department of Mental Diseases exhibits pictures of 50 criminal brains (above). Courtesy of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Dolan DNA Learning Center. Below, a “Eugenic and health” exhibit teaches attendees the tenets of eugenic understandings of inheritance and “unfit” traits. "Eugenics and Health Exhibit, Kansas State Free Fair," 1929. Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society.
“The Normal,” on 24-hour public display at NYU’s Kimmel Windows (LaGuardia Place and West 3rd Street), draws from various eugenics institutions, including the Eugenics Record Office, located in Cold Spring Harbor, with reproduced material depicting the biologically “fit” and “unfit” from 1910s-1930s traveling exhibits, state fairs, popular magazines, and professional conferences.
In the facility, early 20th-century eugenicists channeled Progressive Era ideals of social advancement and state management toward the pursuit of “race betterment” and the defense of Anglo-American racial purity.
The installation is co-curated by John Kuo Wei Tchen and Noah Fuller; its associate curator is Mark Tseng Putterman.
Installation hours and location:
“ ‘The Normal’: Images from the Haunted Files of Eugenics”
NYU Kimmel Windows Gallery
LaGuardia Place and West 3rd Street
On 24-hour display: Friday, October 31, 2014–Sunday, January 4, 2015
About the curators:
• NYU Professor John Kuo Wei Tchen is also the curator of Memory Prints: The Story World of Phillip Chen at the Museum of Chinese in America, and chief historian for the New-York Historical Society on Chinese Exclusion.
• Noah Fuller is a curator and artist working in Brooklyn and an inaugural member of NYU's Art, Education & Community Practice master's program.
• Mark Tseng Putterman is an aspiring academic and activist focused on Asian/Pacific American history and Asian American and mixed-race perspectives on racial justice. He is a Junior Research Scholar at the A/P/A Institute at NYU.