CLVU: Exploring Foreclosure Through Art
Exploring Foreclosure Through Art
In Minneapolis and Boston, artists help explore the losses (and gains) of foreclosure, supporting advocacy, and community-building.
Following the burst of the housing bubble in the late 2000s, millions of homeowners across the United States came face to face with foreclosure.
Given that foreclosure is an emotional and often dramatic experience, it isn’t a surprise that some have turned to art to explore its aftermath.
Projecting Pain—and Power
Over the last 8 to 10 years, City Life/Vida Urbana has increasingly incorporated artwork into its rallies and protest. Artists of various mediums have approached the group with visual ideas to promote its mission of promoting tenant rights and preventing housing displacement in the Boston area, says Steve Meacham, CLVU’s organizing coordinator.
“Progressive artists are drawn to our movement,” Meacham says. “Our participants, our leadership team, our staff, are all drawn from people who came to us first with problems. Our whole structure reflects people who have been through some serious stuff. . . . The civil disobedience that we do constantly draws artists.”
That especially took off after the foreclosure crisis. The grassroots organization launched the Post-Foreclosure Eviction Defense campaign in 2007, which helped people facing foreclosure stay in their homes. But several dramatic art installations helped solidify the organization in people’s minds.
Perhaps the most popular was a shadow projection series by artist John Hulsey, which began in 2010. The project, called “72 Hours,” was a movie of sorts where shadowy outlines of people were projected onto the windows of foreclosed homes subject to eviction blockades and empty bank-owned houses in neighborhoods like Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Dorchester, according to Hulsey’s website. The scenes depicted real families retelling and re-enacting what happened after they received a 72-hour eviction notice.
According to Hulsey’s website, “Transforming private neighborhoods into public arenas for debate, the projections may create spaces in which new solutions can be reached . . . They seek to put pressure on the banks by making human absences visible and felt.”