Who are we, as the new generation of ‘freedom fighters’ advocates, organizers, leaders, change makers? What is our role, how can we take charge? How do we take action? What does action look like? What do we need in order for freedom to exist? What conditions? What freedom principles do we need?
What does it mean to be a body in public space? Is every body as free to move, to protest, to take up space, to celebrate? What does it mean to be a person of color, or female, or transgender, a Muslim, or a young black male, navigating public space? How is your body perceived? How is a collective body perceived? What kind of bodies is a collective body made of? How can we use our bodies to claim space, create space, space, mark space, protest, resist, shape? How does your body move towards freedom? What are the signs, the gestures your body makes? What is a choreography of resistance, of change?
What is the geographical, economical, historical, symbolic and metaphorical meaning of a bridge? How is the idea of a bridge connected to the idea of freedom? What does it mean to encounter someone else, ‘the other’? Can the other be a bridge, if so how, in what way? How does ‘the other’ impede, or give you your freedom? Are you independent of the other person, or do you depend on each other, rely on each other for your existence? How do you relate? What do you realize about yourself through encountering another person? We look at the philosophy of the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. He states: when we come “face to face” with another person, the experience is a social and ethical one (rather than intellectual, aesthetic, or merely physical). Through encountering the other we realize our own vulnerability and our responsibility towards the other.
Free·dom |ˈFrēdəm/. We dive heads in first into to bold and complex concept of freedom. One of the very foundational ideas the American Dream and the American constitution relies on. A concept the group collectively suggested we explore for this year’s (Re)Housing the American Dream iteration in response to a time in America, in which certain freedoms seem to become under threat (again) and others are questionably protected (the right to bear arms). In our work space, we discuss what different definitions of freedom and what freedom means to each of the participants. We look at the language that’s circumscribes freedom: movement, power, distribution, restriction, breaking free, play, entanglement, joy, signals, messages, knots, speech, speaking, sound, voice, confinement, right to, protection, enclosures, migration, celebration, chaos, forward, progress, regression, oppression, liberation.
(RE)HOUSING THE AMERICAN DREAM: A MESSAGE FROM THE FUTURE
October 6, 2017 – January 14, 2018
During the summer of 2017, Chicago-based performance and video artist Kirsten Leenaars reprised her collaboration with a group of 24 middle school students from two Near West Side schools—Highland Community School and the International Newcomer Center in the Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Language—to create a video, (Re)Housing the American Dream: A Message From The Future.
During the 2016 film shoot—which was structured as a three week summer camp—personal histories and experiences from the participating students served as metaphors to explore the actual and imagined reality of the American Dream. In 2017 Leenaars and her collaborators revisited that model to imagine America fifty years from now. Where will they be? What will the world look like? How will people reflect on the present moment? The students resumed conversations about complex issues of the day, including the environment, economics, race, gender, equality, education, technology, and (im)migration to collectively envision their tomorrow.