Pasts and Fututes of South Side Chicago

How does structural violence prevent access to transportation, quality food, schooling, and jobs?

How does it influence where people live and what conditions they live under?

A city’s infrastructure includes its buildings (think hospitals, dwellings, and schools), roads, railways, and energy supplies as well as the people who work in and on those physical structures. Chicago’s South Side has long suffered from inadequate and inequitable physical infrastructure, whether because of redlining policies that enforced racial segregation by limiting the kinds of housing people could purchase or decisions to close schools that serve primarily Black and Brown young people. What happens when infrastructure fails people and their community? These projects imagine what it might take to build a city that works for its residents.

Chicago Architectural Photography Company, Englewood Theather exterior,
c. 1930s

Sonic Collage
1940s Bronzeville
Sonic Collage, 2017

Found and newly recorded sound form the basis of this collage. Set in the 1940s, in the Bronzeville community on Chicago’s South Side, 16 year-old Gus and his mother, DonnaJo, are in a financial crisis. Coming up from the South during the Great Migration, DonnaJo and Gus are poor, so DonnaJo asks young Gus to get a job. Gus finds work at a steel factory, but contracts tuberculosis and is fired. From there, he has a tough decision to make: he can either find another job or sell stolen items as part of the underground economy. He chooses the street, survives it, and fortunately is successful enough to be able to start his own business in Bronzeville.

Youth Artists: Cameron Chambers, Shelby Davis, Lauren Johnson, and Timothy Ellis

HomePod, Chicago, 2038
Speculative object, 2018

Home pods is a prototype of mobile and modular homes that can be moved between the neighborhoods of Chatham on the South Side and Albany Park on the North Side. Watch the mockumentary the artists made to accompany it.

Youth Artists: Carlson Ayanlaja, Daniel Barrera,Yousef Lagundoye, and Symone Pettis

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