Wednesday, April 7, 2010

summer sooner

april 11

1 comment:

  1. I live just a block or two down the road from Mortville. I just want to say, first of all, that the one other review by Camille B. is a great summary of why I have such a problem with this place. Read that first, then read mine.

    Before I speak specifically about Mortville, I need to give you a brief picture of the community it is in (and that I live in). Our community (Little Village/Lawndale) is one of the most needy areas of Chicago. Homelessness, hunger, poverty, prostitution, and drugs (it's not uncommon for 10-12 year olds to try selling me hardcore stuff on the street) have crippled this community. South of the Pink Line It's largely immigrant-populated; immigrant families pack houses beyond what is safe or functional, struggling to make ends meet. North of the Pink Line it's largely African-American. Gang violence is always a threat and racial tensions often reach the boiling point in the form of drive-bys, gang fights, and muggings/assaults.

    So, into this community, we have a group of 20-somethings who basically came here because they found a good deal on a cool building. They spend enormous amounts of time, effort, and money creating absurdist art and hosting bands. It reminds me of the court of King Louis of France; frivolousness among great need. It's so frivolous that I would venture to call it offensive. I walk home from the El stop right by it every night, and it's absurd to see Land Rovers parked outside, with hipsters/fauxhemians in skinny jeans and Fidel Castro hats pouring in and milling about, in a community that is one of the poorest in Chicago (not counting the drug dealers and pimps). Camille's comment saying that, "it's a terrifying neighborhood, but luckily the El is right next to it so you don't have to actually go into the neighborhood" is a great microcosm of the situation. These artists have planted in this community without really engaging the community. I'm an artist, so I love their passion and innovation, but it's like a neo-colonial approach to art: invade the community, ignore the natives, and bring in your culture (middle/upper-class hipster). Why not engage the community, use that passion, creativity, and energy to do art in a meaningful way? Sure, we could debate what "meaningful" means, but let me ask you: what do you think me and my neighbors- we who are struggling to make ends meet and living among violence, crime, poverty, and injustice - see when we look at the parked Land Rovers, the rich kids, the absurd cardboard cut outs and hanging dolls, the projected art installations? We see spoiled, rich white people throwing time and money away right smack in the middle of a community where those two things are the most precious commodities - the ones no one else has.