Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
Loading Events

« All Events

Opening Passages: Photographers Respond to Chicago and Paris – 6018North

May 4, 2024 - June 9, 2024

The interior of a shop features a headless mannequin wearing a red dress with beaded neckline and tape measures drapped around the neck. The the left and right are shelves containing glassware, a cash register, and many white wedding accessories.
Jonathan Michael Castillo, My Quince World (Little Village). Photograph courtesy of the artist.

This exhibition presented at 6018|North in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood is part of a city-wide, multi-site photographic project featuring recent series by ten American and French artists interested in the dynamic social landscapes of Chicago and Paris. Selections from all participating artists appear together downtown at the Chicago Cultural Center, while site-specific installations like this one highlight cross-cultural resonances between areas within the two cities.

The works of the five photographers exhibited at 6018|North explore notions of frontier, immigration, and diasporic identity.

Jonathan Michael Castillo and Gilberto Güiza-Rojas focus on the notion of work, Rebecca Topakian and Marion Poussier question the border or margin, and Marzena Abrahamik takes an interest in the Polish community in Chicago.

Each of them, in their own way, highlights multiple, fragmented, or superimposed life trajectories. These works find a particular echo in the Edgewater neighborhood, which is characterized by the cohabitation of communities of very diverse origins.

Opening Passages is produced by Villa Albertine and its City/Cité program; it is also part of Art Design Chicago, a citywide collaboration initiated by the Terra Foundation for American Art that highlights the city’s artistic heritage and creative communities.

City/Cité seeks to foster a multidisciplinary transatlantic conversation on urban issues, pairing metropolitan areas in France and the United States. Since 2021, the Paris-Chicago dialogue has been flourishing under the umbrella of “Clichycago,” with the support of the Ateliers Médicis in Clichy-sous-Bois / Montfermeil (France) and the Chicago branch of the Villa Albertine. It is conceived as a platform for community-based cultural exchange and artistic experimentation.

 

MARZENA ABRAHAMIK

Born in 1978 in Tarnów Poland

Lives and works in Chicago, USA

Recipient in 2023 of the Chicagoland Seen grant commission funded by the Chicago chapter of the Albertine Foundation.

Return

When Marzena Abrahamik was five years old, her mother fled communist Poland for the United States in search of economic opportunity. It would be a decade before the two were reunited. This story of family separation is familiar in Chicago’s historic Polish community along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor. In Return, however, Abrahamik chronicles stories of migration in reverse. After decades of building a life in Chicago, some are returning to Poland in retirement to access lower costs of living and a public healthcare system.

Immigrating to a new country is a transformative experience, resulting in a new identity even as communities seek to preserve their heritage. Rather than reclaiming one’s former identity, undertaking this process in reverse tends to result in yet another dislocation. To channel these complex processes of cultural translation and identity formation, Abrahamik’s images speak through a grammar of symbols tied to Polish life, whose meaning is at once fixed and fluid.

 

JONATHAN MICHAEL CASTILLO

Born in 1982 in Los Angeles, USA

Lives and works in Chicago, USA

Recipient in 2023 of the Chicagoland Seen grant commission funded by the Chicago chapter of the Albertine Foundation.

Immigrant Owned

Recent U.S. Census data reveals that one in five Chicago residents is foreign-born, underscoring the vibrant role of immigrants in the city’s social, cultural, and economic landscape. Since 2017, Jonathan Castillo has been photographing immigrant-owned shops across Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. The series resists the classifying impulse of a documentary survey, instead offering an eclectic mix of the people and places he encounters in his exploration of the city.

Despite the culturally distinct elements within each portrait of the interior view, common themes of pride and resilience emerge, echoing the struggles and continued promises of the American dream as it persists in the twenty-first century. As Chicago has become a flashpoint in national politics due to its sanctuary city status, Castillo’s nuanced images provide a crucial counterweight, portraying the varied and multi-dimensional reality of immigrant life and work in the city.

 

GILBERTO GÜIZA-ROJAS

Born 1983 in Bogota, Colombia

Lives and works in the Greater Paris area, France

2018 laureate of the national photographic commission Regards du Grand Paris (views of the Grand Paris), led by the Ateliers Médicis in collaboration with the National Center for Visual Arts (Cnap).

In Gilberto Güiza-Rojas’ series Territoire-Travail (Territory-Work), workers perform an idealized vision of manual labor superimposed against remote urban backdrops, representing what he calls “gestures of insertion.” The artist staged these tableaus in and around the training centers of AFPA, the French National Agency for Adult Vocational Training, which are located in remote and often hard-to-reach areas of Île-de-France. These centers retrain newly arrived immigrants to France for new jobs, which are typically lower ranking compared to their former roles. Through these staged performances, individuals re-enact gestures tied to their former occupations against transformed settings, hinting at the vestiges of their former lives. In the video accompanying the photographs, a janitor repeats—in French and in his native language—expressions he used in his former job as a bodyguard, dramatizing the tension between his former work and country of origin and his current situation.

 

MARION POUSSIER

Born in 1980 in Rennes, France

Lives and works in Paris, France

2021 laureate of the national photographic commission Regards du Grand Paris (views of the Grand Paris), led by the Ateliers Médicis in collaboration with the National Center for Visual Arts (Cnap).

On est là

Marion Poussier’s work as a photographer was interrupted by Covid-19 lockdowns in France, limiting her to a one-kilometer radius around her home. Working within this constraint, she explored areas near the Canal Saint-Denis, capturing people and daily life along the water in Aubervilliers, a rapidly changing area of Paris. Against the omnipresent backdrop of graffiti, police oversee deserted banks while life unfolds behind them, echoing the slogan “On est là (“We are here”) from the yellow vests protests, weekly demonstrations against economic inequality that began in 2018. Against the backdrop of faceless urban renewal projects, Poussier casts her subjects in a monumental perspective positioned at the center of the frame, restoring people back to the heart of public space.

 

REBECCA TOPAKIAN

Born 1989 in Vincennes, France

Lives and works between Yerevan, Armenia and Paris, France

2021 laureate of the national photographic commission Regards du Grand Paris (views of the Grand Paris), led by the Ateliers Médicis in collaboration with the National Center for Visual Arts (Cnap).

(n=6–9)

Psittacofulvin, whose generic structure is designated by (n=6–9) is a pigment specific to parrots. It is dominant in rose-ringed parakeets, producing the distinctive fluorescent green coloration that marks them as exotic species in the Paris cityscape. Originating from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, rose-ringed parakeets first entered Paris in the 1970s through a cargo accident at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport. Artist Rebecca Topakian has created an installation around these parakeets that combines photographs of found feathers arranged as a grid paired with images of birds captured midflight with an Instax camera printed on silk fabric and hung from the ceiling. These suspended images are overlaid with phrases pulled from online forums: “these species are capable of speaking French,” “this is not their environment,” or “what does invasive mean?” In each case, the words echo familiar derogatory language directed at populations of human migrants.

 

Opening Passages is produced by Villa Albertine and is part of Art Design Chicago, a citywide collaboration initiated by the Terra Foundation for American Art that highlights the city’s artistic heritage and creative communities.

 

Details

Details

Start:
May 4, 2024
End:
June 9, 2024
Event Category:

Accessibility

Free Admission

Other

Region
North Side
Audience
Life-long Learners, Scholars, Teens
Accessibility
Free Admission
Event Topics
Art Education, Environment, Public Art, Racial Identity, Social Justice, Women Artists

Venue

Locations

Location

6018North
6018 N Kenmore Ave
Chicago, IL 60660 United States
+ Google Map
View Location Website