Black Cinema House Live

Rebuild Foundation

Funding Received: 2011
Chicago, IL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
March 27, 2012

Rebuild Foundation, an art and culture based nonprofit organization founded and led by artist Theaster Gates Jr., is currently reactivating an abandoned two story home in south side Chicago into a mixed used space for film and media based artists of color. The home is being called “Black Cinema House” (BCH) and will serve as an intimate film-screening house in the Chicago's Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood. The BCH will be dedicated to showcasing films of the black diaspora and highlighting the work of great film artists of color. Dorchester Projects is collaborating with the Chicago Film Archives and South Side Projections to ensure that BCH can offer an archive of black, rare, and local films to their community.

Theaster is now in conversation with Amir George, a local film maker, who is helping him to think about what kinds of films will be shown at the House. In the coming weeks Dorchester Projects will be holding a neighborhood meeting about Black Cinema House and will involve neighbors more directly in the programming aspects, such as film selection, educational activities, and summer programs for folks on the block.

Theaster brings us this update on the project:

When working in communities that have long cultural histories, its really important to me to reach out to those folk who have been history makers and share with them the continued opportunities for new successes and growth in our neighborhoods. Its been really exciting to think about our buildings and their reinvestment as ways to get folk excited again to share their stories and continue the history and culture making processes. Collaboration seems first about relationship in this sense, then about the work necessary to make great things happen. In many ways, the work is really an excuse to get to know new people and a chance to ask friends, new and old to participate with me in meaning making.

Whether buildings or symbols, objects or projects, creating chance encounters and a need for others is one way that I learn and grow. It has also helped me establish an artistic practice that feels fluid not insistent- continuous instead of vacuous. An ecology of meaning making from chance and highly negotiated opportunities. A practice that always is new, at least to me.

I am excited to see Black Cinema House done, but even more excited to see space made for production of new ideas and relationships.

Black Cinema House will be ready to open its doors in May. Currently the renovation of the building is 70% completed. The Rebuild Foundation team is working hard designing and fabricating the many "moments" this house will have. Dave Correa, a carpenter and a local artisan who designed and built the front door of the house, is in conversation with me to help envision a work force training program this spring. The goal is to use the opportunity of building the interior finish work of the BCH to train and teach skilled carpentry to two young men from the community that are currently working in my shop. The work that the ArtPlace funding is allowing me to do is giving way to a neighborhood job training opportunity!