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PARK will take place this Saturday, August 15th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., at 2600 South Sacramento. More information here.Do you have a car in shades of black, brown or white? You still have the chance to participate in PARK + 96 Acres . . .
a large-scale data visualization, public art, and radio broadcast event that will occupy 1/2 mile of public street parking adjacent to Chicago's Cook County Jail, the largest county jail in the United States.That complex is like a slough of despond for Chicago's incarcerated criminals, and those awaiting trial in the massive George N. Leighton Cook County Criminal Courts Building.
Courthouse has been restored as offices, an anchor of Albert Friedman's River North revival. Where there's a firehouse and Rick Bayless's trendy Xoco Mexican restaurant, there was, back then, the old two-story County Jail, built for more serious offenders at a time when the location was far from upscale and suitably remote from the city's more respectable citizens.
According to a a 2012 history of the Courthouse by Jason Meisner in the Tribune, today as many as 12 murder cases can be found being tried in the building's 31 courtrooms. 22,000 cases a year are heard here, with individual judges having up to 300 cases on their dockets.
They could be said to represent the mediation between the ideals of justice and what actually lies behind it, in this case the grim Cook County Jail complex.
That is the history the PARK project, developed by artist and designer Landon Brown for the arts advocacy group 96 Acres, looks to address and personify this coming Saturday.
Evoking the political history of self-organized prisoner rights movements and the complex relationship between culture, community, and spectable, PARK is a vehicle for challenging the politics of representation at a time when incarceration plays an increasing disproportionate role in the lives of specific communities in Chicago and through the nation.
Recording stations will be set up for dialogue and socializing, and to "invite visitors to contribute personal memories and stories connected to the history of the Cook County Jail in relation to Little Village and Chicago's West side communities . . . These recordings will become part of an ongoing archive by the arts project and PARK collaborator 96 Acres."
The PARK project is still seeking people with vehicles in the requested shades. Cars must be black, brown or white, and have a working AM/FM radio with speakers. Owners will should arrive between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and park along South Sacremento. You can sign-up and get more information here .
I'm not sure that 26th and California will be included as part of this year's first Chicago Architecture Biennial, but you won't find a more cogent expression of the power of architecture in depicting the contrast between life as we would wish it to be, and life as it is actually lived.