Looking Back With Diamond Stingily

Photograph from the artist’s personal collection, 2004. Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker.

Last week, artist Diamond Stingily opened her new show, Orgasms Happened Here, at 52 Walker. The gallery is installed to look like scenes from Stingily’s childhood, as the exhibition explores the inner workings of her adolescent memories. Youthful throwbacks of sports gear and newspapers live inside foldaway closets, pieces of iron metal gates signify guardianship, and stained glass windows live in the gallery walls, symbolizing the sanctuary these settings hold. 

The inspiration behind the exhibit is derived from Stingily’s childhood, specifically the home where she spent her adolescence. When she and her family moved into the home, her brother discovered a sticky note in the closet of his bedroom that read “Orgasms Happened Here,” thus inspiring the title of this exhibition. Stingily also noted the French folktale of Bluebeard as being one her inspirations for the exhibition. In the tale, the wife of Bluebeard opens a locked door in his castle out of curiosity, and finds previous wives in the curious hall. 

Installation view, Diamond Stingily: Orgasms Happened Here, 52 Walker, New York, June 21–September 14, 2024. Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker.

Inside the exhibition, each architectural space is a window to a specific memory from Stingily’s upbringing. The exhibition portrays an average American household, through multiple life size bedroom closets with mini scenes inside, as well as stand alone doors and stained glass windows. The identical windows are built into the gallery walls, with sheer curtains draped over the awnings and a light blue hue shining through. Stylistically similar to the architecture in Stingly’s great-great aunt’s Baptist church in Chicago, they act as a commentary on how her family church within an urban community enacts the same comfortability that she felt within her adolescent bedroom.

The closets are also built into the walls of 52 Walker, protruding out and allowing the viewer to glance inside, similar to being at home and looking into one’s own closet. The different closets displayed in the exhibit are a cheeky look into the actual closets that stood within Stingily’s home. Newspapers fill the walls, folded towels line the shelves; one is filled with wooden and metal baseball bats, while another has white button downs that hang freely as the wall behind it is decorated with ads of cars for sale with beautiful women in push up bras and and mini jean shorts. 

Installation view, Diamond Stingily: Orgasms Happened Here, 52 Walker, New York, June 21–September 14, 2024. Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker.

Pieces of an iron fence are sprinkled throughout the gallery, making it feel as though you are walking down the street and looking into a suburban home. The gates outside of a home guard those that live within the space, so although the iron pieces have sharp ends and jagged exteriors, there is a softness there – protection, and a sense of security. 

As we get older, childhood memories and spaces become increasingly more foreign. Although these memories still live inside us, and make up who we are today, at times they can be hard to visualize. These standalone spaces that Stingily has created act as portals – a literal look inside to a more youthful time in life. 

Orgasms Happened Here is the twelfth exhibition for 52 Walker, since its opening in October of 2021. Stingily’s exhibition will be up for public viewing now through September 14. 

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