Resilient Cities

Mexico City: Artists Breaking Apathy

Mexico City, a massive, sprawling metropolis and home to over 21 million inhabitants, is the capital of a country that has become notorious for drug-­‐related violence. The ‘drug war’ as it is widely known, officially launched in 2006, had initially the support of communities who were tired of gun battles, execution-­style murders and police corruption.

However, it has since spiraled into one of the world’s deadliest conflict after the Syrian war, with 200 000 people murdered since 2007, hundreds of thousands of people displaced by violence, a notable rise in human rights abuse, femicide and violence against women. So widespread and brutal is the violence that it has become almost commonplace, paralyzing the inhabitants of Mexico City into apathy. But a major turning point came about after the disappearance and killing of 43 trainee students. The city’s artists decided that enough was enough; it was time to break the climate of helplessness.

In this episode, we follow Canadian photographer François Pesant and three Mexico City artists: Andrea Narno, a graphic artist who is part of a women’s art collective, plastering her message on the walls of the city’s streets; Edgar Olguin and Sara Juarez, a group of performance artists denouncing femicide and violence against women; and Alfredo Libre Gutierrez, a sculptor whose oversized installations address the struggles of South American migrants.

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Nairobi: Art Disrupting Corruption

Kenya is well known internationally for its sandy beaches and wide‐open savannahs that attract foreign tourists every year. But behind the picture perfect postcard hides a bleak reality.

Jakarta: Art Defying Moral Conservatism

Indonesia, where the national motto is “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” or “Unity in Diversity,” is home to both the world’s largest Muslim majority as well as six additional religions. The country has had a difficult history under the 32-­year dictatorship of General Suharto whose repressive and corrupt militarized rule led to the deaths of hundred thousand.

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.

Karachi: Creating Art Amid Terror

Target killings, terrorist attacks and a skyrocketing crime rate: these are the words usually used to describe Pakistan’s megalopolis Karachi. And up until recently it was considered a lawless land, taken over by gangsters and terrorist groups like the Taliban who assassinated intellectuals and artists.

One of the most significant target killings was the assassination of Sabeen Mahmuud, a feminist and intellectual who founded T2F, one of the few spaces dedicated to creation in Karachi. The case of her assassination remains unsolved.

Warsaw: Art Fighting Ultranationalism

Since the democratic election of the Law and Justice Party in 2015, Poland is divided between liberals and ultra-­conservatives. The country is moving away from the orbit of Western Europe and returning to a past defined by family, church and home.

In some instances, it is also moving towards a future that echoes elements of its dark history. Antisemitism on the rise and a wave of ultranationalism is sweeping the country.