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Opening Passages: Photographers Respond to Chicago and Paris – Experimental Station

May 4, 2024 - July 27, 2024

Two rectangular landscape photos, one centered on top of the other. The larger is a shot of water with a colorful horizon and large rocks in the foreground. The smaller shot shows a barren landscape and empty sky with a low horizon.
zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal, entry #7. 35mm film scans on Canson.

This outdoor installation presented at Experimental Station in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood is part of a citywide, multi-site photographic exhibition featuring recent works 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 Chicago Center, while site-specific installations like this one highlight cross-cultural resonances between areas within the two cities.   

Photographs by two artists living and working on Chicago’s South Side, zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o’neal and Tonika Lewis Johnson, are shown here along with a series of images produced along the Paris transit system by Assia Labbas. Together, these images invite us to reflect on how the histories of racial and socioeconomic division within each city have shaped the relationship between center and periphery and the particular connection each of us has to public spaces.  


zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o’neal – in the open you are here.

Born in 1991 in Chicago where she lives and works. 

dumas-o’neal creates quietly radical art that advances the possibility of Black autonomy and self-determination from within the historically fraught terrain of landscape art. The artist combines still and moving images of bodies of water with archival images drawn from her own family and other community-built collections on Chicago’s South Side. Through these visual juxtapositions, these works gesture to the harmful legacies of race and gender that permeate our visual culture while simultaneously moving to transcend them.  


Tonika Lewis Johnson – Belonging

Born in 1979, in Chicago where she lives and works. 

In 2018, Johnson posed a simple question to a group of teenagers of color living on Chicago’s South Side: “Where have you felt that you did not belong?” She made portraits of them in the places they described that she supplemented with audio recordings of their stories. When Ateliers Médicis invited her to participate in a residency in Clichy-sous-Bois, an area on the periphery of Paris, she seized the opportunity to transform her Belonging series into a transatlantic dialogue about racial divisions in the urban landscape. 


Assia Labbas – RER B-ANLIEUES

Born 1991 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, France, lives and works in the Greater Paris area. 

A journalist and artist, Assia Labbas followed regular commuters on the B line of the RER, which is a high-speed train service linking Paris to the suburbs. The photographs, taken through the windows of the train, reflect the scale of the region’s often striking socio-economic disparities. These views are accompanied by the voices of witnesses recounting their perceptions of the journey and their own perspectives of their environments, distinct from the clichés conveyed by the media.   

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. 


The Chicago Cultural Center hosts the main exhibition, featuring the work of all ten photographers. The three other venues―BUILD Chicago, Experimental Station, and 6018North―exhibit a subset of the artists whose work resonates particularly with the neighborhoods in which these institutions are located and the communities they serve. Related events include screenings, workshops, and conversations.



May 4, 2024
July 27, 2024
Event Category:


Free Admission


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




Experimental Station
6100 S. Blackstone Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637 United States
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