Can an artist intervention translate contested spacial and racial narratives that define the real and imagined landscape of a New York? 

The Red Line Archive is a mobile public art project that engages New York City residents in a conversation about race and the history of the 1938 Red Line Map that helped create the segregated urban landscapes of the city. This “cabinet of curiosities” is wheeled along city streets, inviting people to freely associate about personal artifacts and documents from the artist’s family history in gentrifying Brooklyn and ephemera collected during four artist walks in and along the periphery of redlined neighborhoods.

Redlining refers to discriminatory lending practices that prevented African- Americans (and other people of color) from attaining home mortgages and business loans in New York City and urban communities nationwide. Even as loans to blacks were discouraged, real estate brokers actively used racial and economic fear mongering that encouraged white homeowners to sell their properties at reduced prices and move en masse to new suburbs created for them. This was known as white flight.

Neighborhoods of historic and cultural importance in Black Brooklyn such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, and Crown Heights – areas now on the frontline of gentrification – went from racially diverse to black “ghettos” almost overnight as redlining excelled. These neighborhoods physically declined as city services and economic development were withheld. Redlining was not solely confined to African-American neighborhoods; areas like Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Dumbo, among others, were redlined, too.

Come walk the Red Line Labyrinth with the artist and friends at Weeksville Heritage Center

‘Red Line Labyrinth’ is a site-specific participatory art installation enacted in neighborhoods at the epicenter of aggressive gentrification and displacement. Labyrinths have been used throughout human history as a means to inspire personal and community reflection and renewal. The artist invites you to walk the Labyrinth alone or in pairs to activate reflection, healing and the experience of pilgrimage.

Date: October 14, 2017 – 2:00 – 6:00 pm

Where:  WEEKSVILLE HERITAGE CENTER – 158 Buffalo Avenue, Brooklyn, New York


Check Facebook for more information and locations for the Archive and the latest iteration of the Red Line Archive Project!

About the Artist

Walis Johnson is an filmmaker, educator, walker/researcher interested in the intersection of documentary film and performance whose work documents the urban landscape through ethnographic film, oral history, and artist walking practice.  She is She holds an MFA from Hunter College, in Interactive Media and Advanced Documentary film and has taught at Parsons School of Design.