Chicago Home Theater Festival will explore the practice of social organizing by inviting artists, activists, and neighbors to create Neighborhood Field Guides in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, City Bureau, Sixty Inches From Center and others. We will gather neighborhood stories and create zines, audio collages, and dramaturgical tools which will be utilized by artists to create neighborhood-specific work and performed as part of our festival in May 2017. CHTF invites strangers into each other’s homes to share an intimate meal, experience transformative art, and build intentional community across lines of difference. We aim to provide a platform for artistic exchange within neighborhoods that have experienced systemic disinvestment; center narratives by and about artists of color, women and femmes, migrants and immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and artists with disabilities; and curate performances and conversations that directly disrupt injustice and catalyze collective action.
Safe passages often become neoliberal check boxes that are created by people who have white savior complex or by internal policing measures that are incited by the state to create levels of policing that ultimately devalues many black, brown, Muslim and immigrant peoples experiences. At the Arab American Cultural Center, we have gotten tired of hearing about the hate violence our community faces and the solutions or lack thereof offered by traditional resources. We are tired of buddy system and hate crime reporting centers that end up just surveilling the activity of arab and muslim bodies further. We have also grown tired of trying to create “safe spaces” and realizing that we are never safe. This workshop seeks to use words, imagery and feelings that are centered in creating spaces that are brave. To us, brave spaces stand for healing, justice, loudness and freedom. We seek to use poetry to loudly announce our presence, to reclaim the problematized Arab and Muslim visibility and create spaces where our bodies are valued and not stigmatized as being terrorists. Knowing that many communities face a similar, if not more, racialized identity politic, that gives way to hate violence, surveillance and racism, we seek to coalesce around and use collective writing to de-stigmatize and reclaim our existence in communities and passageways.
Sangi Ravichandran is the associate director of Arab American Cultural Center at UIC and a PhD student in sociology. She was born and raised in South Asia and moved to Chicago, where she studied photography and subsequently her Masters in Art Therapy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a queer immigrant arts based activist, a feminist and formerly an organizer around gender based violence issues that face black, brown and immigrant communities. She is also currently a board member at the Chicago Women’s Health Center, an advisory board member at Chicago Desi Youth Rising collective and a founding board member at From the Roots organization in South Africa.
This program is in conjunction with PUBLIC SCHOOL and is led by Irina Zadov.