[This text was originally published in AREA Chicago #13 in April 2013]
6018north is a home-based experiment in challenging the boundary between private and public. The project asks how and where individual self-interest can interact with collective action and community engagement. 6018 north’s first exhibition
The Happiness Project—presented in Chicago storefronts and public spaces in November 2011—re-imagined how individuals might transform underutilized private and public property by engaging in unexpected and transcendent activities. The Happiness Project occurred in public space. A subsequent exhibition, CURE, directly engaged 6018north’s physical space. For CURE, artists Amber Ginsburg and Lia Rousset—who employ art-making as a connective tool where people come together as creative agents—created a site-specific installation of over 2600 stalks of garlic. Woven into the living and dining room walls by the artists and volunteers, CURE visualized the care that is needed to generate and sustain food production as well as community and society. The exhibition Home: Public or Private? was presented within 6018north’s space, literally filling all of its rooms with 27 site-specific installations and performances. The exhibition explored the social, cultural, and political ramifications of our shifting conceptions of public and private space. Forced to work as a collective—as each artist moved and organized the junk of the house, shared limited resources, and built upon the context and information of each other’s work (especially the history of the house and its inhabitants)—the exhibition synergistically blended multiple disciplines, differences in age and experience, and styles of art production. Because the artists were encouraged to create experiential work that resonated with the house and would be accessible for public tours, the exhibition was unintimidating and accessible. In addition, food and drink were provided to promote conversation between neighbors, artists, and patrons.
6018north prompts artists to manifest change within their own artistic process, production, and presentation. Connecting multiple disciplines—visual art, performance, theatre, and sound—with audiences over food and drink, 6018north is articulating new models of creating and experiencing art. By encouraging experiential audience-engaged work, 6018north is amassing attention and critical artistic dialogue around community within a home. Although it is a public venue for art events, 6018north is modeling a way to provide a comfortable and welcoming forum for individuals in the community to meet each other and build a larger, more diverse, inclusive, and sustainable art ecosystem in Chicago. Viewed in this light, 6018north allows art to serve one of its important functions: to make public what is often considered private. ◊