The World’s Unfair
September 15-October 15, 2023
24-17 Jackson Ave.
Long Island City, Queens
Between 23rd St and 45th Ave
***The World’s UnFair is closed Saturday, September 23 & Sunday, September 24 due to rain***
Thursdays, 2:00 – 9:00 PM
Fridays & Saturdays, 2:00 – 10:00 PM
Sundays, 2:00 – 9:00 PM
Across an immersive spectacle of animatronics, large-scale sculptures, video installations, and powwow grounds, The World’s UnFair invites you to play a part in a decolonized future. Brought to you by New Red Order (NRO), a public secret society of informants and collaborators dedicated to rechannelling desires for indigeneity towards the expansion of Indigenous futures, The World’s UnFair offers a practical solution to growing calls for the return of Indigenous land: Give It Back.
The Future is Here
NRO’s largest public project to date takes place in an empty lot in Long Island City, Queens. A meaningful location for the fair-cum-encampment, as the borough hosted both the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fairs. NRO reappropriates the format of these past international exhibitions or expos, where Indigenous people were often dehumanized or romanticized in exhibits used to dispossess them of their lands and legitimize colonial plunder. At The World’s UnFair, settlers are invited to reverse these nation building models and become accomplices in the process of decolonization—a new world order that NRO describes as “liberatory pathways of border-less, property-less, nation-less imaginings.” While it has taken over 500 years to colonize Turtle Island, and therefore may take 500 more to decolonize it, The World’s UnFair reminds us that we are living in the future, today!
Meet Your Guides
At the fair’s center sits Dexter and Sinister (2023), an animatronic talking tree and giant beaver engaging in a philosophical and occasionally humorous dialogue about land and the origins of private property. Here, the tree calls on the anthropomorphized “wise old tree” representative of nature archetype. The beaver is the animal, besides humans, that perhaps most profoundly alters its environment, and which early settlers saw as a means to capital and property, including New York’s pioneer fur trade dealer turned early real estate mogul John Jay Astor. As a result, beavers were nearly hunted to extinction, yet still hold a prominent place on the New York City Seal.
In contrast, in Anishinaabe culture, beavers represent wisdom, because they are world builders. Beaver dams alter the lived environment in a way that creates new ecosystems and worlds for hundreds of different species, a behavior NRO wants to model for others in The Worlds UnFair.
Upon entry, visitors encounter the 5-channel video installation Give It Back (2023), introducing the “Give It Backers,” a group of elected officials, non-profit leaders, foundation representatives, and individual settlers who have voluntarily given land back to Indigenous people and groups through multiple pathways—a trend with incredible potential to return land as it was taken over time, parcel by parcel. Across the fair, hundreds of tribal flags establish the present-day sovereign Indigenous presence within the borders of the so-called United States.
From multimedia installations and interactive exhibits to a line-up of experimental programs, The World’s UnFair exposes the ultimate public secret—hidden in plain sight across public seals, monuments, mascots, city, town and street names—the United States is an ongoing occupation of stolen Indigenous land. Through The World’s UnFair, NRO also presents the remedy to this disastrous reality: “In a time where the future appears bleak or non-existent, giving it back offers a bright path forward, a way for us to survive an apocalypse together. The landmass here is enormous. And its ecological capacity to sustain life is immense if we care for these resources correctly. You can have a place. But first things first: Give it Back.”
A Call to Action
Ultimately, The World’s UnFair moves beyond the symbolic: it serves as a call to action to rematriate land in so-called New York City.
Weaving between public assembly, academic symposium, experimental music performances, and film screenings, The World’s UnFair will feature the first ever Give It Back Gathering, bringing settlers who have gone through the process of land return in conversation with each other alongside a breadth of artists and thinkers. New York City is home to the largest urban Indigenous population in what is currently referred to as the United States. The festival platforms the “right of return” for the Lenape diaspora in international solidarity with the right of all forcibly displaced people to return to their ancestral lands.
Moved to action? Take a step. Donate to Lenni Lenapexkweyok, a collective of individual Lenape matriarchs who are working to increase Lenape presence in their homelands, immediately and long term. Reach out directly to the collective regarding further collaboration, supporting Lenape return, and/or giving land back at email@example.com.
Lenni Lenapexkweyok was birthed through a collaboration between Emily Johnson / Catalyst’s Branch of Knowledge, which is stewarded by River Whittle, and matriarchs from five of the federally recognized Lenape nations. New Red Order aims to amplify work like this and is committed to supporting their building of pathways for Lenape return and sharing in efforts toward Land Back in Lenapehoking.
Lenni Lenapexkweyok are from the Lenape Nations undergoing ongoing displacement, hundreds of miles from their homelands: Delaware Tribe of Indians in Bartlesville, OK; Delaware Nation of Oklahoma in Anadarko, OK; Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians in Wisconsin; Moravian Delaware of the Thames in Ontario, Canada; Munsee-Delaware Nation at Munceytown in Ontario, Canada; Delaware of Six Nations in Ontario, Canada. Follow @lennilenapexkweyok on Instagram to get the latest.
Lead project support for The World’s UnFair is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation, The Henry Luce Foundation, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, The Teiger Foundation, Arts, Equity, & Education Fund, Becky Gochman, and an Anonymous Donor.
We are also grateful for the support of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) in partnership with the City Council and Mayor Eric Adams.