Trashing the Neoliberal City: Autonomous Cultural Practices in Chicago from 2000-2005

Trashing the Neoliberal City: Autonomous Cultural Practices in Chicago from 2000-2005

Edited by Daniel Tucker and Emily Forman, Learning Site, 2006

With contributions by Ava Bromberg, Rachel Caidor, Emily Forman, Dara Greenwald, Nicolas Lampert, Pauline Lipman, Josh MacPhee, Micah Maidenberg, Laurie Palmer, the Pink Bloque, Laurie Jo Reynolds, and Daniel Tucker. Design by Dakota Brown and Daniel Tucker

"We need an exciting new energy that challenges who will live in the city, who will benefit from its growth and development, and who will get to participate in fundamental decisions affecting economic, cultural, and social life. What we need is a space to contest whose city Chicago will be." - Pauline Lipman's essay from the publication entitled "Whose City Is It Anyways?"

Chicago is a post-industrial success story. At least that is what the spring 2006 special feature article on the 3rd largest city in the United States had to say about the matter. Increasingly cities, especially those that qualify as "Global Cities" of significant importance to the world economic stage, compete for success in terms of quality of life for white collar service workers and the so-called Creative Class and to facilitate the proper business climate to satisfy the needs of globalized capital. Other characteristics include the privatization of services previously managed by the state and the deregulation of labor and markets. Aspects of this contemporary phase of neoliberal capitalism are new, while some are as old as the free market itself. When we look at the implications of such a moment in time on a single city, many questions about the social impact on precarious residents arise. This publication catalogues a diverse range of cultural projects that responded to and questioned the state of social and political life in Chicago at the turn of the century.

The projects in this publication raise fundamental questions about our right to the city and the possible uses of culture in the struggle for community self-determination: How do we want to interact with our neighbors? What kinds of reforms do we want from the state and what kinds of collective infrastructures should we be building ourselves instead? What kinds of spaces encourage resistance, free movement and the well being of the whole population?

Most of the work featured in this publication has never been published or seen in print. For the first time, seventeen of the most compelling self-organized projects, events and initiatives from Chicago's recent past have been catalogued together to present a document of a unique period of cultural activism. Only the surface is scratched with 1-3 pages dedicated to each individual project, yet we get a sense of the projects essence and motivation through the inclusion of original press releases and reproductions of promotional materials as well as documentation. The work is divided up into three sections which attempt to organize the work according to it's most significant themes. The sections are "The Right to the City" featuring work that deals with housing and gentrification, "Protest Experiments" that address the policing of public space and dissent, and "Social Reorganization" which offers alternative contexts for gathering and relating to strangers, friends and collaborators in times of intense alienation and social isolation.

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