Black Cinema House Live

Rebuild Foundation

Funding Received: 2011
Chicago, IL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 1, 2011

Internationally-renowned artist Theaster Gates brings art and culture at an intimate scale to Chicago’s South Side on Dorchester.

Reimagining small houses to create new “spots” in communities that lack cultural and artistic amenities is what we are doing at the Dorchester Artist Residency.  At the heart of these projects is the desire to have old buildings function as modest repositories for art and reflection. We know that when creative people live among each other great things can happen. Our presence in places that are often on the fringes has been chronicled tirelessly, yet we (artists) often lack the resources to impact the places where we live in long term ways.  We do not often directly benefit from our impact nor do we have the resources to be intentional about who else benefits from our presence. I want to attempt a different kind of development model/studio practice; I want to affect “the block” by adding culture for my friends, the church folk down the street, university scholars, filmmakers, chefs, gang members and family to experience good times at “my house.”

Using local craftsmen, highly skilled and untrained workers, Rebuild Foundation, a small arts non-profit dedicated to the creative redevelopment of spaces, design education and advocacy for the space needs of artists that I’ve founded, will repurpose a two story, mixed-use building in Chicago, for the creation of a Live/Work space for film- and media-based artists of color. The project, Black Cinema House, will provide space for screenings and conversation, in addition to showcasing local filmmakers and other artists.

With support from the architecture community, building trades, and local materials companies, Rebuild Foundation will lead a team of creative collaborators -- artists, designers, filmmakers, architects and community members -- in creating the Black Cinema House. Rebuild Foundation’s master builders and educators will also train and employ three local residents in deconstructing the existing space and repurposing the materials over ten months.  The repurposed materials will be used in an exhibition that connects an abandoned building in Chicago to an abandoned historic building in Kassel, Germany. (I will provide more details on this next time.)

Right now, we are in the middle of the design process, finalizing architectural plans, getting permits, talking with residents and artists about the possibilities within the space and other programs that might take shape. Some of our partners, including an architectural salvage place called Salvage 1, have been helpful by providing design ideas and material stock, including doors, iconic details, flooring, etc. It’s a really exciting moment of collecting and listening. In advance of deconstructing the interior, we invited Leroy Bach, Marvin Tate, Joshua Abrams and other great Chicago musicians over for a Jam. The image below is from that day.