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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.

Presented as part of Opening Passages: Photographers Respond to Chicago and Paris, this outdoor installation takes place at Experimental Station in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. It shows photographs by two artists living and working on Chicago’s South Side, zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o’neal and Tonika Lewis Johnson, 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.  

zakkiyya najeebah 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. 

In 2018, Tonkia Lewis 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. At the invitation of Ateliers Médicis, she transformed her Belonging series into a transatlantic dialogue about racial divisions in the urban landscape. 

A Greater Paris-based 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. 

Produced by Villa Albertine, Opening Passages is a city-wide, multi-site photographic exhibition featuring recent works by ten American and French artists who are interested in the dynamic social landscapes of Chicago and Paris. Selections from all participating artists are currently on view together downtown at the Chicago Cultural Center, while site-specific installations like this one highlight intersections between artists whose work resonates with similar themes or particular areas within each city.



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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