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Archiving Social Justice in Chicago

A public discussion and presentation of local social change art projects, featuring Hull-House collaborators, past and present. Jane Addams Hull-House Museum’s current exhibition, True Peace: the Presence of Justice highlights Chicago artist-activists Monica Trinidad and Sarah-Ji. Trinidad, co-founder of Brown and Proud Press (2012) and For the People Artists Collective (2015), actively uses her art practice to push for spaces where both artists and organizers recognize the necessity of cultural organizing as key to effecting social change and imagining alternatives to policing and prisons. Sarah-Ji, a prison abolitionist and organizer, creates photography that documents Chicago’s extensive social justice organizing. Their work will serve as a catalyst for the discussion on ‘useful art,” the archive and documenting social change.

This program is inspired by the current exhibition “Arte Útil.” “Arte Útil”, as defined by artist Tania Bruguera, is “an idea of art as a tool for social change”. Initiated by Bruguera, the Asociación de Arte Útil is a growing international network of people and activities that promote this idea.  The project exists primarily as a growing online archive of hundreds of case studies from around the world that exemplify the concept of “Arte Útil” across categories such as urban development, science, economy, environment, and education. The archive is activated through exhibitions, meetings and exchanges that further interrogate the idea of ‘useful art’.  This Chicago iteration of the Arte Útil Archive is presented within the former library of the historic Hull-House, reactivating the room as resource for local neighborhood groups, artists and activists to exchange knowledge that may prove useful in the local context.  

“Arte Útil” (9 Sep, 2019–05 Jan, 2020) is commissioned by the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, …and other such stories, curated by Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares.