There Goes the Neighborhood

Artistic interventions in neighborhoods and community-inspired artworks are popping up all around us, from Pierre Huyghe‘s playfully ritualistic Streamside Day (2003) to Mel Chin‘s New Orleans recovery effort SAFEHOUSE (2008). It will be interesting to see how these kinds of  projects develop in the tough economic times ahead, and with the new energy and sense of civic duty encapsulated in this week’s U.S. presidential elections. The four videos below show how the act of re-imagining may be a crucial strategy in the years ahead.


Mattress Factory | The Making of Street with a View

RE-IMAGINING MAPS: Artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley organized the first-ever intervention in Google Street View by enlisting residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to decide how they wanted their neighborhood to be pictured online. Check out the results on Google Maps by searching for ‘Sampsonia Way Pittsburgh’ and more via Google Sightseeing.

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L.A. Times | Watts House Project (WHP)

RE-IMAGINING DEVELOPMENT: A decade in the works, artist Edgar Arceneaux’s Watts House Project is located across the street from the landmark Watts Towers. A civic project modeled after artist Rick Lowe’s successful Project Row Houses in Houston, Arceneaux’s aim is to revitalize the surrounding area beginning by refurbishing 20 local properties. Read the full article.

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Ill Doctrine | Kara Walker, Down in the Hole

RE-IMAGINING MEDIA: Fans of HBO’s groundbreaking television series The Wire will appreciate this one: after spotting the actor who plays Chris Partlow at the Whitney Museum’s recent survey of artist Kara Walker‘s work, Jay Smooth created this video spoof set to the show’s opening theme song “Down in the Hole”  (lifting some artwork from the Art:21 episode). The Wire and Walker’s artwork share innumerable themes — from the blurry line between victim and victimizer, to the complex expressions of race, gender and sexuality — and one can only imagine what a sixth art-centric season set in fair inner-city Baltimore would be like. Or as Omar Little would say, “Indeed.”

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Houston Chronicle | Art in the Lower 9th Ward

RE-IMAGINING SPECTACLE: Biennials are typically excuses for various degrees of civic pride —  from the national pavilions at the Venice Biennale to the continual redefinition of American-ess at the Whitney Biennial — in addition to performing the dual function of identifying trends and generating income out of tourism. What’s rather unique about the current  Prospect 1.New Orleans is the explicit association of a biennial-like event with a well-known tragedy: Hurricane Katrina and it’s aftermath. How this kind of spectacle will evolve, and what impact it will make on the community is still unclear. The video features new works by Art21 artists Mark Bradford and Janine Antoni, but be sure to wait for the contrasting moment at the end of the video, when an alternative project slips into view.

Contributor
Wesley Miller is the Associate Curator at Art21. Miller co-curates the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series. He is also co-creator of the series New York Close Up.

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