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Live conversation between Lawrence Weschler and Rhoda Rosen
Grappling with and engaging the cultural implications of homelessness
In the brutal winter of 2013, curator Rhoda Rosen and artist Billy McGuiness, living at opposite ends of the 26-mile-long north-south Red Line of Chicago’s metro service, launched a practice of preparing home cooked meals every Saturday night and going out to the blustery platforms at one end of the line or the other to share them (with proper tablecloths, plates and silverware) with some of the people experiencing homelessness who had taken to living out their nights on the metro trains and were being forced to disembark between rides. From that initial action grew a widening community and the insight that on top of being houseless, people experiencing homelessness were living out a sort of exile from the city’s vital cultural life. The community themselves set out to remedy that situation, systematically challenging Chicago’s cultural institutions to make room and provision for them. In addition, several of the community members turned out to be artists, poets and other sorts of cultural workers, or else began seeing such possibilities in themselves, and soon began deploying their talents in the evolving campaign. For more see: https://www.redlineservice.org
Rhoda Rosen, reared and educated in South Africa (BA and MA in art history from the University of the Witwaterstrand in Johannesburg and Ph D from the University of Illinois in Chicago) went on to serve for more than a decade as the director of the Spertus Museum in Chicago. In addition to teaching the theory and practice of curation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she is currently president of the board of Red Line Service, which, in the words of the Chicago Tribune’s Lori Waxman “makes the kind of critical, visionary art that is engaged in world building, in rendering palpable the world we want to live in,” and she will be joined in this zoom conversation with Ren Weschler by several of her fellow community members from Red Line Service.