A new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago reportedly features recently-shot footage of the Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments, built by Julius Rosenwald in 1929 on Chicago’s South Side.
According to MCA’s exhibition listing, the video installation, Unititled (Structures), by Leslie Hewitt and Bradford Young “is comprised of a series of silent vignettes, filmed at sites connected to the Civil Rights movement and the struggle for racial equality in the United States.” The present day images that Hewitt and Young have filmed of these locations in Memphis, Arkansas and Chicago belie their historic significance and cast a static, anti-nostalgic eye at structures that are still heavy with symbolism.
We got a tip from someone who attended the exhibition that the Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments appear in the installation. Based on the description, images of the storied apartment complex should fit into the installation’s thematic context. At the time of its construction, the Rosenwald Apartments represented a significant step forward for African American housing opportunities in the city of Chicago, and modeled a way towards decent housing for all. Today “The Rosenwald” lies dormant and unheralded, just another vacant structure in a part of the city that is accustomed to derelict buildings and vacant lots. Fortunately, there is a plan in the works to rehabilitate the complex and provide affordable housing and retail space.
The Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments in 2007
Photo credit: SilverRaven7 (flickr)
Get more details on the exhibit at MCA’s website. MCA will hold an event with Leslie Hewitt on August 23rd and the exhibit will be open until August 31st.