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Bridge Assembly Zones Launch to Respond to Information Deserts

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Bridge anticipates the official debut of a first prototype in fall 2021 at a Perez Plaza community market in the Little Village neighborhood.

Bridge Assembly Zones Launch to Respond to Information Deserts

Bridge, a nonprofit collective of interdisciplinary artists that publishes the Bridge Journal, is launching a major initiative to give voice to communities that often go unheard. Bridge is creating Assembly Zones for public spaces-plazas, parks, and sidewalks-to provide wellness interaction and on-the-spot crisis resource information to those in need, focusing on communities with minimal access to smartphones, WiFi, or personal computers-dubbed "information deserts" by the collective. The Assembly Zones project is currently in an initial planning and design phase, and Bridge anticipates the official debut of a first prototype in fall 2021 at a Perez Plaza community market in the Little Village neighborhood.


Prior to the onset of the pandemic, artist and Bridge Journal Editor-in-Chief Michael Workman began working with a team of Bridge collective artists to develop the Assembly Zones pilot program for communities in need-disproportionately Black, Brown, and Latinx populations. Said Workman, "The goal is to create a recognizable public space along the lines of a bus hut or phone booth. We seek to provide a design solution-such as a subject-marked pull tab similar to a deli counter service tab-to provide resources for those seeking help for a variety of social traumas, such as domestic violence, addiction, mental illness, eviction, hunger, or poverty, in areas where technological solutions may be sparse."

Further, these Assembly Zones will function as public engagement spaces, encouraging interaction between other users and, when working in partnership with other organizations and institutions, to offer related programming at the host sites.

As part of the demographic research to identify high-priority crisis resource needs in various communities across Chicago, the core project team began by mandating the Your Turn campaign, which invites members of the public to upload anonymous texts and audio sharing their survival stories during the pandemic. Your Turn began as a sticker campaign designed by Bob Faust and Faust Ltd. and distributed by retail partners across the city. Later, in partnership with collective member Mat Rappaport, using his converted 1997 GMC step van exhibition space and media lab Range Mobile Lab, Your Turn also became an outreach initiative to record audio of survival stories from members of the public at plazas and other public spaces across the city.


In addition to Workman, the core project team of artists involved in developing the Assembly Zones prototype structures includes Bob Faust, principal and creative director of Faust Ltd. and co-founder of Facility; Michelle Kranicke, artistic director of Zephyr Dance and co-director of SITE/less; Mat Rappaport, associate professor at Columbia College Chicago and founder of the Range Mobile Lab; Andrew Schachman, co-founder of the Fieldwork Collaborative and executive of the Floating Museum; and David Sundry, architect and co-director of SITE/less. A few of the host sites that have committed to date include DePaul Art Museum, Evanston Art Center, Facility, Howard Brown Health Centers, National Public Housing Museum, and SITE/less.


Bridge launched in the early 2000s as an independent Chicago journal of art and public scholarship that today continues its aims of serving as a guidebook to the public scholarship and interdisciplinary art movement that the artistic collective seeks to provide. Its most recent issue, Bridge Version 21, Number 1, provides background research and details of the Assembly Zones project, working with a wide range of artists and institutions including MoMa, Gladstone Gallery, MIT Press, Rem Koolhaas' Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), and others to produce their most in-depth research yet, designed by Bob Faust and Faust Ltd., with members of the artistic collective serving as section editors. Copies are available for purchase at bridge-chicago.org/bridge-store.

Now through September 15 - Evanston Art Center
Core project team member and architect/designer David Sundry has been developing an Assembly Zones prototype by adapting his previous dance set piece designs from Zephyr Dance's 2012 installation Allowances and Occurrences at Defibrillator Gallery (see excerpts here). In June, Bridge core project team members supervised the installation of a timeline development mural for the Assembly Zones project, designed by Bob Faust and Faust Ltd., that wraps around the façade of the Evanston Art Center, 1717 Central Street, Evanston. The mural showcases Sundry's architectural drawings and materials, as well as materials developed through the Your Turn campaign.

August 21 and 22 - Evanston Art Center
Two days of programming at the Evanston Art Center will include installation of new panel sections to the Assembly Zones timeline development mural with guided tours and discussion; a Listening Station with Mat Rappaport's Range Mobile Lab; additional programming featuring readings by poets and writers in partnership with the LOCUS reading series curated by Whitney LaMora; jazz performances by Chicago musicians recommended by legendary Chicago South Side music festival Back Alley Jazz; and a new Bridge Movement Matters symposium on the uses of art, with artists Andrew Schachman, co-director of the Floating Museum; Laurie Jo Reynolds, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, and coordinator of the Chicago 400 Alliance, joined by other members of the Alliance; and Amber Ginsburg, lecturer in the University of Chicago's Department of Visual Arts and collaborator on the Tea Project. Updated information is available at bridge-chicago.org/events.

September 30 - October 10 - West Town, Chicago
Art space The Martin, 2515 West North Avenue, Chicago will present SOURCE RECURSIONS, an exhibition of work by core project team members exploring the concepts and historical precedents of the Assembly Zones initiative, drawn from and surpassing the artistic research from the most recent Bridge Journal. David Sundry will present drawings, photos, and dance set pieces created for Zephyr's Allowances and Occurrences; Michelle Kranicke and Zephyr will offer new interpretations of their source dance performances; and Michael Workman will offer a series of iconologic, text-based art works and a new streaming-audio instructional artwork and walking tour of the surrounding public space.

Additional programming planned for the fall includes an Assembly Zones prototype reveal at Manuel Perez Jr. Plaza, 4345 West 26th Street, Chicago in September and additional Listening Station dates. As well, a second Bridge Journal is planned before the end of the year. Bridge will announce remaining dates and additional information soon.

The original goals of Bridge in the 1990s emerged from the bedrock notion of interdisciplinarity, from a need to recognize interdependence of art across the disciplines, and to think and combine them where appropriate; this concept has further evolved in the ensuing decades. The simple belief behind Bridge is that separate fields of inquiry can and should be thought of as having shared, intersectional horizons. Today, every existing worldview, whether scientific, philosophic, aesthetic, political, or literary, must acknowledge its limits or risk being defined as obsolete, unachievable, and incoherent.


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