Resilient Cities

Chicago: Artists Fighting Segregation

Chicago is a city that ranks as one of the richest and most productive in the United States, yet it has a deeply segregated urban landscape and a high murder rate. In its south and west sides, impoverished housing blocks sit beside affluent homes, universities and city stadiums. The year 2016 was the city’s most violent in over two decades with a record of 762 homicides, an increase of 58 percent since 2015. The bulk of these shootings occurred in the south and west, areas that are predominantly poor and black, and whose murder rate is on par with some of the world’s most dangerous countries like Brazil and Venezuela.

Residents and community leaders are despairing over the violence and its normalization as a routine part of life, while city officials have responded with more police officers and law enforcement strategies.

But the city’s segregation has also birthed a diverse, politicized art scene. This episode will reveal characteristics of a U.S. city which are not frequently seen and will feature some of Chicago’s most talented young artists: Malcolm London, a rapper-­activist whose politically charged poetry speaks directly to the people of his community; Sam Kirk, a visual artist who uses her work to build links between segregated communities; Fawzia Mirza, a queer performer whose complex identities create new perspectives of the city; and The Era Footwork Crew, a footwork crew that is using dance to change stereotypical narratives about Chicago. Each in their own way is bringing hope to a place that has become synonymous with homicides and forging links between people amid the segregated landscape of the city.
 

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Moscow: Expression in the Face of Suppression

Moscow is a city where dissidents live in fear. After emerging from a decade of post-­Soviet economic and political turmoil, the country, under Putin’s rule, is a place where authorities have tightened control over the media and stifled the opposition. The government maintains a narrative that insists on the country’s unique power in contrast with the rest of Europe. In 2011, thousands of protestors gathered in Moscow to protest electoral fraud – it was the biggest show of protest since the fall of the USSR.

Jerusalem: Artists Fighting for Their Own Truth

As one of the oldest cities in the world and of significance to followers of all three major religions, Jerusalem is constantly on edge. It is segregated into two distinct parts, East and West. In the streets, 18-­year-­old soldiers patrol the city with guns. Artists in both parts of the city are using art to find and fight for their own truth and bring about peace amid the regular eruptions of violence.

Lagos: Artists Provoking Debate

Lagos, the largest city in Africa and an economic powerhouse, is characterized by extreme social inequalities, frequent power cuts and a rapidly increasing population. In the rest of Nigeria, political upheavals, including the militant insurgency of Boko Haram and a drop in oil production in the country’s oil sector, are among some of the challenges facing the government of Mohammadu Buhari, elected in 2015. Lagos, and its exploding art scene, is where these realities are brought to the fore of people’s consciousness.

Havana: Art from a Disconnected Island

Cuba is a multi-layered, complex, culturally-rich island, known primarily for the 1953 revolution of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. The revolution, America’s subsequent trade embargo and the economic struggles that the island faced has had a notable impact on the kind of art that was created. Much of it was inspired by a sense of cohesion and unity, with Cuban artists promoting the belief that socialism would work. More recently, and in the context of renewed normalization of relations between the U.S.

Manila: Creating In Spite of Fear

Manila, a giant Asian metropolis with traffic-laden roads, towering skyscrapers and sprawling informal settlements, has become a dangerous place. Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines in June 2016, vowing to crack down on the drug trade. Since then, extrajudicial killings have led to the deaths of over 3500 people by vigilantes; his approach is reminiscent of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled from 1965 to 1986.