How do people organize — each individual, each block, a piece of a larger system? What underlying structures can be revealed?

BLOCKS documents community while thinking about bottom-up structures of power that connect divided populations through shared goals and interests. Pilsen faces threats to the immigrant community, gentrification, and new challenges concerning the Covid-19 pandemic. There is evidence of these tensions and resulting response: people taking small actions to make change. Through an archive of visual material, my work shows what is relevant to Pilsen now, and suggests a methodology for engagement in one’s community.

The work of an ally is central to my process, paying close attention to a place, and listening to those who live there. Pilsen is the neighborhood where I live, but these frames of thought could extend to other communities in which one might reside. I am interested in capturing the conditions of specific moments in time: engaging with physical space through observation at the slow cadence of a pedestrian.

I hope to shed light on critical issues, unearth the labor of organizing, and suggest that we take on the work of being allies. I am interested in revealing current realities and envisioning new possibilities – turning to bottom-up structures in hopes of new ways forward.

Kristin Smith     ︎     Chicago, IL