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May – June 2005 | UnionDocs Brooklyn

For three days, UnionDocs welcomed Sudhir Venkatesh, professor of sociology at Columbia University and director of Columbia’s Center for Urban Policy and Research, as he presented his documentary film DisLocation for the first time. The screening included a discussion with several subjects of the film and a photography exhibit which remained installed at UnionDocs through the spring. An interview of Venkatesh was collaged with other UnionDocs audio recordings in a radio broadcast on WKCR FM NY.

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In February 2002, families living in the Robert Taylor homes on Chicago’s Southside were given a 180-day notice of eviction. In six months, the community that had been their home for generations would be demolished. DisLocation chronicles the lives of families forced to relocate from the high-rises. It is an attempt to understand how tenants cope with the loss of their home (and their collective identity) and start their lives over in new residential communities.

For fifteen years, Prof. Venkatesh has studied public housing. In the early 1990s, Venkatesh lived with several families in the notorious Robert Taylor Homes on the Southside of Chicago. The fieldwork resulted in his first book, American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto (Harvard University Press, 2000). With support from the MacArthur, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations, Venkatesh’s most recent work on the Robert Taylor Homes has turned to the genre of film in order to capture the experiences of a community undergoing a profound transition.