Ocupados/Occupations and Tent Cities

Image by Sarah Jane RheeAREA Chicago is proud to present a new exhibition project in conjunction with Issue 13: Housing, on view February 15 to May 31, 2013

Opening Reception: Friday, February 15 from 6 to 9 p.m.
at Art In These Times,
2040 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago

(we regret this venue is not wheelchair accessible)

Encampments, Occupations and Tent Cities, curated by Jayne Hileman as part of AREA #13, examines historic actions such as the Fayette County Tent City, the occupations of Alcatraz and the Mad Houser hut cities. Espacios Ocupados: Defining 99%, an exhibit curated by Jesus Macarina-Avilaby for Instituto de Nuestro Cultura, features work from contemporary Caribbean, Latin American and Latino/a artists that explores shifting cultural identities in a post-occupy world.

Artists/projects: Alfonso Fernández Acevedo, Celia Alvarez-Munoz, Eric J. Garcia, Jose Guerrero, Pedro Lasch, Gamaliel Ramirez, MadHousers, Atlanta and Chicago, Occupied Chicago Tribune, Sarah Jane Rhee, Love + Struggle Photos, Nyki Salinas Duda & Sydney Stoudmire,  Julio Cesar Montaño Montenegro and more…

Background — from Jayne Hileman’s text in the upcoming issue of AREA:

How do we sustain our spirit of resistance for the long term against enormous odds? One way is to revisit models of past organized, creative, and sustained resistance to economic, ethnic, and class inequality to find options for action and inspiring models for resilience.

The exhibit Occupados/Occupations at Art in These Times will document recent historical moments of collective resistance. By providing a visual record of past spaces, communities, and concepts of collective, spatialized resistance, we hope to unite imagination and action today.

Jesus Macarena-Avila, in his introduction to the exhibit he curated, “Espacios Ocupados: Defining 99%,” reminds us of the 1960s Spanish tradition of okupados, in which social activists and residents would take over abandoned spaces and use them as social centers. This exhibit originally brought together work of international and local latino/a artists in three Chicago neighborhood art spaces: Calles y Sueños in Pilsen, Maya Essence-Casa Guatemala in Lincoln Square, and North Branch Projects in Albany Park. In doing this, the exhibition linked artists’ work about indigenous and immigrant experience to places where these would have particular resonance. “Ocupados/Occupations and Tent Cities” will connect with this exhibition project in the hope of reigniting some of the energy it created by including seven works from the original show.

The exhibition will also address incarceration as a type of repressive encampment, like the Tent City Jail of Maricopa County, Arizona, assembled to deal with overflow of immigrant prisoners, and the current solitary confinement practices at the Tamms Maximum Security Prison in Illinois. No one built these spaces out of an imaginative desire to share space collectively. But they remind us of reasons for continuing to build alternative spaces and places of creative resistance. Processes of occupation can be messy and uncomfortable, but they can also be liberating and creative. They can become congregations of conversation and can create shared community space, which models a beauty that includes rough edges, divergence, and disagreements. They tend to generate models of organization where process is valued a bit more over a refined result.
Ocupados/Occupations and Tent Cities will be on view February 15 to May 31, 2013, at Art in These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee Ave., Second Floor

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