The last Cabrini-Green  building will be demolished this week. The story of Regent Park’s revitalization isn’t just any narrative of the gentrification of a city center; it is Toronto, but it is happening worldwide.  Each city has the same struggle on how to house its poor, how to transfer its decrepit buildings,  the slums, the projects into viable new communities or a less visible housing program.

Cabrini Green, in Chicago,  grabbed my attention not only for its urban renewal narration,  a mirror of Toronto’s revitalization, but its development through continuous documentation and art projects.

Artists  produce great photodocumetaries of urban decay, the intrinsic texture of city life, and their community.

All the elements of the Light and Sound  Installation Project at Cabrini Green were created together with Prague-born artist and teacher,  Jan Tichy and his partner Efrat Appel, the students of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and more than 100 youth many who lived in and around Cabrini. This multimedia project using poetry, lights and a 24-hour video feed commemorated life in the projects. As they read their words, a computer program recorded their voices, generating patterns from LED lights that beamed from 134 vacant apartments. As the tower falls, there are fewer lights.

Some of the pictures above, were screen captured from the 24 hour web cam.  All other images were shot on site at Cabrini Green. The first image shows one of the light installations.

With lights, poems, teens say goodbye to Cabrini

 Apr 23, 2011

New York Times

The last high-rise at Cabrini-Green is coming down starting Wednesday, stirring strong emotions among former residents who remember the troubled housing project as their home and community, as well as a place of menace. Those feelings will emerge in an unusual light display that will accompany the demolition.

Earlier this month, young people who lived in and around the project gathered nearby at the Seward Park field house to record poetry that will determine the rhythms of pulsating colored light beamed from the windows of the 15-story building. The lights will be extinguished, apartment by apartment, as the high-rise comes down.

Full Story Installation to Illuminate Cabrini-Green Building’s Fall
Chicago Tribune
By Lauren Viera

It’s been claimed that in near-death experiences, the otherwise unconscious see a bright light, seemingly luring them into the afterlife.

On the eve of its demolition next week, the last standing high-rise affiliated with the Cabrini-Green public housing project will be illuminated with 134 LED lights, one in each of its vacant apartments, programmed to blink in “conversation” with one another — with the goal of speaking to the experiences of former residents. Lights will fall as the building does during its month-long razing, scheduled to begin March 30.

Full Story,0,3604457.story

Dr. Susan Popkin’s, Senior Fellow, of the Urban Institute, Northwestern University, research has focused on the impact of the radical changes in housing policy over the past decade on the lives of the most vulnerable public and assisted housing families. This body of research includes the HOPE VI Panel Study, the first large-scale, systematic look at outcomes for families involuntarily relocated from public housing

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