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This web site presents
the work of Esther Parada accompanied by texts taken from her writings.



The Randolph Street Gallery installation

Artist Statement



Who Dis/Covers — Who Dis/Colors, 1992

Who Dis/Covers—Who Dis/Colors, a 1992 installation at Randolph Street Gallery in Chicago, examined the struggle of the National DuSable Memorial Society to win recognition — and representation at the 1933 World's Fair — for Chicago's first permanent settler, a black trader named Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable. This piece employed multiple contemporary technologies, including digitally generated color photomontage for the panels on the facade of the gallery and a large-scale black & white linotronic text panel, which followed the multiple constructions of DuSable's identity over the last century. A selection of hand-colored vintage postcards (color laser copier facsimiles) from the World's Fair Century of Progress traced the official glossy (and often racist/sexist) representations of the Fair.

These were juxtaposed with a dozen full-size newspaper pages (giant black-and-white photocopies of tiled microfilm printouts) from the 1933 Chicago Defender which offered an alternative narrative of the Fair. At that time The Defender (now a daily paper) was a vital weekly publication in the black community that militantly attacked discriminatory admission policies and employment practices at the Fair. At the same time it was an enthusiastic booster of numerous events and festivities there, especially the building and dedication of DuSable's cabin. The inclusion of these newspaper panels, as well as a continuous videotape interview with the daughter of the Society's co-founder, captures a dense and complex picture of the cultural struggles of that period.

—Excerpt from Parada's essay, "Taking Liberties: Digital Revision as Cultural Dialogue," Leonardo, Vol. 26, No. 5, pp. 445-450, 1993

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