Jul 26th 2017

Alfred Caldwell and the Performance of Democracy: Archives and Events

"Alfred Caldwell and the Performance of Democracy: Archives and Events" excavates previously unavailable archival resources, including those at the Caldwell Farm and the Graham Resource Center, to provoke a series of public events including: two public lectures on Caldwell’s living histories, a musical performance set in Caldwell’s Promontory Point Park in Chicago, and archival workshops at the Caldwell Farm in Wisconsin and Illinois Institute of Technology. These scattered-site sequential programs address a diverse range of geographies and constituencies to amplify access, interpretations, and new scholarship on Caldwell.

The five events around which this project gathers establishes many “publics” for the project. The Alfred Caldwell Lecture by Thomas Dyja at IIT expands the latent discourse of Landscape Architecture in the Midwest. The Promontory Point Lecture by Kim Soss gathers new oral histories on the cultural and social significance of Promontory Point to African American, gay, and lesbian Chicagoans as well as unearths archival scholarship on Promontory Point at the University of Chicago, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Gerber/ Hart Library and Archives, and other locations. The Promontory Point Performance draws on the archival material for the production of a new live public performance in situ at Promontory Point. The Oral History Archival Workshop at the Graham Resource Center “unsilences” hidden audio tapes of Alfred Caldwell to provide greater public access and discourse around these stewarded materials. Lastly, the Caldwell Farm Archival Workshop immerses students and scholars in and among the significant built works of the Caldwell Farm which Phyllis Lambert, in an email to Richard Polansky, proclaims “is a miracle … a model for America (that) deserves the highest attention.”

Alfred Caldwell and the Performance of Democracy programming is supported by a generous grant from the Graham Foundation, and will run from early Spring through Fall of 2018. Questions about the series should be addressed to Kim Soss, Head of the Graham Resource Center, soss@iit.edu