Friday, April 28, 2006



Docklands Community Poster Project (1981 – 1991)

The Docklands Community Poster Project was founded in 1981 by Loraine Leeson and Peter Dunn in response to the concerns of East London communities over an extensive proposed re-development programme. The newly elected Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher designated the land surrounding the working docks, from St Katherine's Dock east of Tower Bridge downriver to the Royal Docks, as an Urban Development Corporation. This effectively removed local control from an area crossing five London boroughs, with the aim of transferring it into private ownership. However, this land, now known as the London Docklands, not only incorporated docks and warehouses, but was also home and workplace to 56,000 people. Historically, up to this time the communities of East London had been poor but politically active. They were not against development, they just wanted it to also meet their own needs. A struggle ensued....

Buttermilk Bottom / REPOhistory

This project honors the passing of a community destroyed by Urban Renewal to make room for Modern Atlanta and the "New South." This site-specific public art installation consisted of signs, street markings, and a pavilion installation that illustrated the history of the community, as well as a reunion of former residents. The historical information was donated to the Martin Luther King Library and the reunion has become an annual event....

Voices of Renewal / REPOhistory

"Voices Of Renewal" is the second phase of REPOhistory's public art/public history work in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward. Following on the heels of the 1995-96 "Entering Buttermilk Bottom" project, this Public Art Residency is a collaboration by REPO artist Tom Klem and residents of the Fourth Ward's Glen Iris neighborhood. Working directly with those who lived these histories, six artist-created public history markers were created and were installed permanently on the private property of those residents whose histories were unveiled and celebrated.

Out From Under the King George Hotel / REPOhistory

REPOhistory was invited to Houston, Texas, to create a public art project. We chose to document seven layers of history on the location of the King George Hotel. We chose this site because the abandoned Hotel was across the street from a homeless shelter and one block from the site of a new baseball stadium that was the cornerstone of the city's plan to redevelop the downtown. We created a printed document that was distributed throughout the city. The document was also wheat pasted to the facade of the hotel with the permission of the Non-Profit Housing Corporation of Greater Houston, an organization that was renovating the structure as a halfway house for homeless. The Housing Corporation used the document for fundraising and will permanently hang a framed copy of the document in the lobby of the renovated structure.

From CHAnge to CHAos

In late 2004, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) initiated a public relations campaign to put a new face on their Plan For Transformation, a plan that drastically reshapes the state of public housing in Chicago.

This PR campaign, authored by the advertising giant Leo Burnett, fused Chicago Housing Authority's acronym ‘CHA’ with the word ‘change’, resulting in a new brand identity: CHAnge. There are undoubtedly big changes happening with public housing in Chicago, including massive organizational restructuring within CHA and the tearing down of all high-rise public housing buildings.

Unfortunately, the priorities of CHA haven't changed at all, and public housing residents are still at the bottom of the list. While the CHAnge campaign has attempted to put a 'resident empowerment' spin on the Plan for Transformation, in reality the majority of public housing residents have been adversely affected by the massive restructuring. If you are a single working mother displaced by a home demolition, waiting over 6 months for a voucher to relocate as your children are shifted from school to school, CHAnge feels a lot more like CHAos.

The original CHAnge campaign ads appeared in Chicago's public transit, billboards, bus shelters and newspapers. In addition to the CHAnge ad campaign and their brand makeover, the CHA has purchased public history itself in order to sell the Plan for Trans-formation. After receiving $183,167 for 'exhibitor services' from the CHA, the Chicago Historical Society mounted an exhibition touting the Plan for Transformation and re-writing the history of the CHA's troubled past.

As with the CHA's other exhibits, this one indirectly blamed the residents for the demise of public housing and attempted to close the book on this chapter of history. The current chapter in CHA’s history, however, is far from over. As the wrecking balls come down, it is urgent that we listen to the resident voices and the critical pieces of history that are missing in the CHA's ads. For more information on our efforts to address the missing pieces of the story, see our Resident Voices section.

Pioneer Renewal Trust

The Pioneer Renewal Trust is a hoax real estate agency that is used in projects which serve to highlight gentrification and housing issues in Chicago. Our first project was a show in a residential home gallery located in a in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. We initially offered the gallery up for sale in a straightforward way, with signs and flyers. As the show progressed, the signs, flyers, and interior of the gallery became more absurd, as we proposed to build a series of super-luxury condos inside the house. PRT also hosted a public forum with presentations and discussion by local housing activists and artists who have dealt with gentrification in past projects.

Real Estate

As part of london in Six Easy Steps at the ICA, curatorial partnership B+B have developed Real Estate as a response to the use and ownership of land in a city currently preparing for the 2012 Olympics and threatened with terrorist attacks.

Streets and open spaces are commercially managed, regulated by new legislation and surveyed by four million surveillance cameras. Meanwhile cultural policy emphasises the potential 'culturally-led regeneration' to transform the city and artists become accidental property developers through processes of gentrification and a hunger for 'creativity' within lifestyle housing.

Artists and activists featured in Real Estate take these forms of control and instrumentalisation as a starting point from which to intervene, subvert, play and disrupt the city.

Three Functions / Hewitt & Jordan

A text work sited on a billboard in East London during Real Estate, 'The function of public art for regeneration is to sex up the control of the under classes', is a work concerned with the way in which culture-led urban regeneration is advocated within regeneration strategies. Regeneration aims to change the 'mindset' and 'behaviour' (Landry, C., ‘The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators’, London: Earthscan, 2000) of residents, to improve their effectiveness in creating capital and growth in order to reduce what is seen as a dependency on state provision. Whereas the need for change in terms of social justice and parity is necessary, the methods and motivation of these cultural policies, particularly the roles assigned to art and culture within them, need to be examined. This new work is a continuation of a series of text works entitled the Three Functions that discuss the functionality of public art.

We Shall Not Be Moved: International Graphics on Homelessness and Gentrification / Center for the Study of Political Graphics

A missed paycheck, a health crisis, or an unpaid bill are all that separate many people from homelessness. As America’s income gap widens, renters worry if they can ever buy homes of their own - or keep their rentals through retirement. The lack of affordable housing is not just a U.S. problem. We Shall Not Be Moved uses domestic and international posters to show that homelessness and gentrification are major issues throughout the world - and from the U.S. to Europe to Australia, posters remain the resisters’ tools of choice. Posters announce demonstrations to oppose demolitions, support squatters’ rights to move into abandoned buildings, and organize tenants’ unions. They document victories, defeats, and ongoing confrontations. Posters both record these struggles, and are central to them. They show that victory does not happen overnight - it can take years - but it is possible to fight city hall and the developers and win.

The Center for Urban Pedagogy

Urban Renewal Activity Tables (CUP)

The Urban Renewal Activity Tables provide a chance to explore the stories of five places in New York City after they were declared blighted and in need of serious repair. Each site is interpreted with an interactive table, a large-scale photograph, and a detailed timeline.

Gautreaux v. Urban Renewal (CUP)

Who is responsible for creating living patterns? How do people choose where they want to live? Why are American cities racially segregated? The 40-year-old legal saga known as Gautreaux historically unfolds as an exploration of these questions. In 1966, against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, a class action lawsuit was brought against the Chicago Housing Authority and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development alleging that both had racially discriminated in locating Chicago public housing and in selecting tenants for certain housing projects; projects located in nonminority areas had virtually no black tenants whereas the reverse was true for projects in minority areas. The charge amounted to claiming that the government was responsible in some way for creating the racial ghetto and has a responsibility to eliminate it. As you will see, these somewhat simple claims unfolded into a series of events of immense complexity, range, and scale. At stake is nothing less than the means of social control over the built environment.

The Subsidized Landscape (CUP)

This installation presents an overview of the various ways that the United States government provides incentives to guide real estate development—from direct subsidy to lending guarantees and tax incentives. The provision of federal incentives shapes our everyday landscape in so many ways: from the development and siting of large public housing projects to the development of suburban homes. This exhibit provides a context for looking at public housing as one kind of subsidized housing among many; and urban renewal as one federal development strategy among many.

The primary focus of the installation is a model at 1/200 scale displaying a landscape of physical structures and patterns of development. Although the structures form an imaginary landscape, each one represents an actual place that receives an actual subsidy. Rows of lights connect these developments to representations of federal, state and local governmental bodies. The pattern of lights show the viewers which administrative bodies handle the flow of money as it makes its way from City, State or Federal government to the developers, owners and occupants of the buildings.

Public Housing 101 (CUP)

Where did public housing come from? Who lives there? Who makes the decisions? What does it look like? What are some of the issues facing public housing today?

These questions guided three CUP educators and eight City-as-School students through a semester of collaborative learning. We first conducted interviews with a group of public housing stakeholders, including tenants, administrators, elected officials, researchers, architects, and organizers. We then created a series of educational posters and a set of three video pieces try to capture what we learned.

The City without a Ghetto (CUP)

A series of projects and programs that address how areas of human habitat have come to be labeled as unwanted, unneeded, or unimportant, and how various means have been used in attempts to remove, renew, revitalize, or redevelopment these areas through planning.

This project is called “The City without a Ghetto” to honor the double interpretation of this phrase; that is, a city without a ghetto corresponds both to utopian dreams of a perfected human settlement, as well as the fear of racist, classist domination of living space. As the history of public housing shows, these two understandings are historically intertwined, and are woven into the everyday fabric of how American city-dwellers understand where they live today.


Shame of the Cities: Gentrification in the New Urban America / by Kari Lydersen

Nature as an icon of urban resistance: artists, gentrification and New York City's Lower East Side, 1979-1984 - social conditions depicted in art / by Gregory Sholette

Mysteries of the Creative Class, or, I Have Seen The Enemy and They Is Us / by Gregory Sholette

The Fine Art of Gentrification / by Rosalyn Deutsche and Cara Gendel Ryan

Get Real! Art, Regeneration, and Resistance / by Laura L. Sullivan

Gentrification Reality Tour / by Charles Shaw

The Changing Neighborhood / The Next American City

Selling the Lower East Side: Culture, Real Estate, and Resistance in New York City / by Kurt Reymers, Daniel Webb and Christopher Mele

Farewell, Bohemia: On Art, Urbanity, and Rent / by Rebecca Solnit

Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space / by Neil Smith

There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster / by Neil Smith

Nicholas Blomley / Unsettling the City: Urban Land and the Politics of Property / Chapter Two: "Property and the Landscapes of Gentrification"


Gentrification @ Planetizen

Gentrification @ Mute Magazine

gentrification web
what is gentrification?

Boom - The Sound of Eviction (96 minutes, DV, Color) Directed by Francine Cavanaugh, A. Mark Liiv, and Adams Wood


On-line Document Library /
Greater Chicago Housing and Community Development Website

The Greater Chicago Housing and Community Development Website is designed to guide and assist policy makers, housing/community development professionals, planners, researchers, developers and people seeking to buy or rent a home. The website will make available a wealth of data and information about the housing environment in Chicago and other communities throughout the region.

Interpreting Neighborhood Change in Chicago

Changes in a neighborhood can produce many effects. This website aims to help engage people in a discussion of both the positive and negative effects of change witnessed in Chicago's neighborhoods since the 1970s, with attention given to vulnerable lower-income communities.

The Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement is a unit of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since its founding in 1978, the Center has been guided by the mission to improve the quality of life for all residents of the City of Chicago and the metropolitan area through research and technical assistance to organizations and local government agencies in their efforts to revitalize the many and varied neighborhoods and communities.

TU CASA ES MI CASA: Artists Respond to Gentrification / Polvo Art Center / Chicago IL

A Bibliography of Chicago Gentrification / Gapers Block

Public Art In The Daley Village / by Daniel Tucker

Losing Confidence / by Leah Samuel

The View From the Ground is an occasional publication of the Invisible Institute—a set of relationships and ongoing conversations grounded at the Stateway Gardens public housing development on Chicago’s South Side. In the tradition of human rights monitoring, our aim is to deepen public discourse by providing reliable information about conditions on the ground.


On one level, AREA is an investigation into movements of resistance and creativity that are gathering force in Chicago. On another level, it is a social networking project: within the pages of the publication, through the interactions and encounters at our public events and meetings, and in the very distribution of ideas throughout the city. We hope that the graffiti art, protests, critical writing, reflections, and projects that appear in these pages will inspire our readers with suggestions of the many ways in which a citizen can inherit a city on one's own terms. In a local context where official politics are bankrupt and institutionally corrupt, it becomes our responsibility to create spaces where the micropolitics that we desire can be imagined and created. In a place where faulty urban planning and commercial interests dictate the shape and feel of the city--our space reclamations, urban gardening, and public projects connect us to a to our own agency to create the city. In a city where economic and social precariousness is the status of so many citizens, the experiments in resource-sharing that occur can provide stability and support. As Michel Foucault formulated the problem when discussing revolution and popular justice in a still-relevant 1972 discussion with Maosts, "[...] the forms of state apparatus which we inherit from the burgeois apparatus cannot in any way serve as model for the new forms of organisation." As engaged citizens, It becomes our responsibility to re-imagine what we inherit, and to create new models.