Critics’ Picks

Jan Tichy, Project Cabrini Green (feed), 2011, video, color, 700 hours. From “Project Cabrini Green,” 2011.

Tel Aviv

Jan Tichy

Gordon Gallery
6 Hapelech Street
August 23 - September 15

In March 2011 the last high-rise building of Cabrini-Green, a public housing development on Chicago’s Near North Side, was demolished and 134 deserted apartments turned into rubble. In its prime, the complex had housed over 15,000 people. Over the years, however, gang violence, neglect, and poor conditions drove residents away. Days before the demolition began, Jan Tichy installed 134 flickering LED boxes in the empty spaces of the final standing building; during the monthlong process, these boxes blinked every day from 7 PM to 1 AM with unique patterns. The lights could have been read as SOS signals. In fact, their beat was determined by a conversion of human voices: local youth reading poems they had written about destruction and urban decay. The poems were penned during a series of community workshops Tichy organized with his partner, Efrat Appel. The poems, the nearly 700-hour-long video, the LED boxes, the workshops, and the intervention in the public space have all become part of Tichy’s “Project Cabrini Green,” 2011.

This exhibition marks the debut of the work in its full capacity in Tel Aviv, and the small spaces of Gordon Gallery are filled with voices of teenagers reading their poems. A computer allows visitors to choose which poem to hear. A different computer provides a visualization of the building’s grid. Behind a black curtain, some surviving LED boxes are placed on the floor. Suddenly, one of them flickers and offers a latent message—an echo of destruction that takes hold of the space. The various threads of this project seem to connect to one another through this dying box: As “Cabrini Green” delves into questions regarding gentrification and social stratification, it also presents a surprising emergence of the past. The beaten box thus appears as what is on the verge of unavoidable downfall.