32. Stop Telling Women to Smile – Lenox Ave in Harlem
A series of display cases on Lenox Avenue and 125th Street in Harlem contain an exhibition by Brooklyn artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, a Black/Iranian visual artist who is the New York City Commission on Human Rights’ Public Artist in Residence. The series, Stop Telling Women to Smile, is a continuation of a movement started by the artist in 2012 that can be found on walls all across the world. Her artist residency here in New York City aims to “present the experiences of anti-black racism and sexual harassment experienced by New Yorkers through public art.”
Stop Telling Women to Smile showcases portraits of women on each display case, with captions on the back that speak directly to street harassment offenders. One of the cases shows actual written responses on postcards Fazlalizadeh placed in locations around the city, with questions like “What assumptions to people make about you because you are black?” and “What do you want to say back to your harassers on the street?” As Fazlalizadeh writes on the website about the project, “Street harassment is a serious issue that affects women world wide.
This project takes women’s voices, and faces, and puts them in the street – creating a bold presence for women in an environment where they are so often made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.” The work will be up until at least August 2020. Fazlalizadeh also has another exhibition, Respecting Black Women and Girls in St. Albans, in Queens at the Daniel M. O’Connell Playground.