Portfolio > Open 24 Hours

December 2016 - Ongoing
Photo documentation / community intervention

Open 24 Hours engages social and civic responsibilities towards the restoration of the pride and state of sanitation of my neighborhood. Since December of 2016 I started collecting littered glass bottles of alcohol found at Franklin Blvd. in East Garfield Park, a historic African American neighborhood. Every morning I walk my dogs around the block and collect between four to ten (+) empty bottles of alcohol as a memento to the communities’ consumption. The bottles are stripped of labels, cleaned and arranged in a classic still life (connection to art history / think of the tradition of Italian painter Giorgio Morandi). The still life’s represent the documentation of one day of collecting. By stripping the bottles labels I remove an immediate connection to a specific demographic, providing a wider entrance to audiences that becomes curious about the meaning behind my documentation.

The title OPEN 24 HOURS refers to the neighborhood areas that are 24 hours a day highly visible to the community and rarely if ever cleaned by the city.

According to data from the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention, Chicago neighborhoods are among the areas with the highest binge drinking rates. Living for over seven years in EGP gives me some perspective on how residents of my neighborhood engage in this behavior. This behavior lingers since the 70’s endemic poverty and unemployment overtook the area and a drug economy associated with criminal activity filled the economic void. Collecting the tossed off bottles of alcohol becomes a way of measuring or archiving the neighborhood’s consumption.
Something that stands out to me is the amount of empty bottles of cognac (Hennessy and Rémy Martin) consumed. This detail lead me to research the historical connection of African American population to cognac (introduced to black soldiers stationed in southwest France during both world wars) a connection refurbished as a lifestyle instigated by the rap and hip-hop culture sine the early 90’s.

Collected bottles will be transformed through a crafting project consisting on housing the bottles on crafted sea shells. Unifying the crafting language with the archiving gesture allows me to symbolically reposes them. The archiving gesture assumes the role of distinguishing the origins of the object while the crafting gesture of shelling the bottles romanticize and situates alcohol’s quintessential roles in our society.

Open 24 Hours unfolds the historic connection in between African Americans and cognac, tracing back to the 1930’s. During both world wars, cognac was introduced to black soldiers stationed in southwest France. France celebrated black artists musicians like Josephine Baker, who filled Paris clubs during the interwar years. African Americans elected to drink cognac since then. Rap lyrics referencing cognac refurbish this liquor’s popularity amongst African Americans since the late 90’s.