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2nd Floor Rear 2016: We Are Here was a meditation on the meaning(s) of being somewhere.

2016 marked 2nd Floor Rear’s 5th anniversary. To celebrate, we invited Pilsen to join the party. This shift got us thinking about the social and cultural politics of being and acting in a specific space. If what Heraclitus said is true, that you can never step in the same river twice, so too with the city street—its cultural landscape is constantly in flux. And like the bright red arrow that pinpoints our location on a map, the creative output of a place is the pulsing beacon that heralds and gives form to our cohabitation. It’s a way to let people and history know that we are breathing, living, thinking, working, making, and dreaming, here.

For 2nd Floor Rear 2016: We Are Here, we asked participating artists to consider some of art historian David Summers’ observations:  that architectural places—enclosures—unite groups as groups, that such enclosures exclude as well as include, and that specific spatial relations and social relations arise together. We curated a schedule of events that provoked questions about whether spaces are binding and normative (who, exactly, is this “we”?), or potentially liberating, asking artists to think about temporary autonomous zones, of the beach beneath the paving stones, of walking the city, of strategies and tactics; about space in relation to bodies and bodies that shape place; about who gets to be where, and why.

For 2nd Floor Rear 2016, artists reflected on places driven or defined by people, power, people in power, gentrification, migration, dis/placement, urbanization and ecology, peripheries and centers (why do we DIY?), productive hangouts (parties as form), productive callouts (protest as form), and productive dropouts (like the the USC seven, how might we “devise new spaces for collective weirdness and joy”). 2FR 2016 events considered dots, pins and beacons as metaphors for visibility, for assertion, for marking time when your time has come. Artists responded to notions of place as movement, as nowhere, as imaginary or ideological; to psychogeography, pirate utopias, places forged by ritual, transitoriness, visiting, placemaking, homemaking, histories, historicizing, supermodernity, pop-ups, squats, dreamworlds, cyberspace, publics and privates, order and entropy.

Ultimately, 2nd Floor Rear 2016: We Are Here posited questions about what it means to be “based,” “from,” or “of” a place. Where is “here”? Where are we? Who is “we”? What is happening here and now? How did it get that way? Where is it all going? And most importantly, why does this matter?


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Download a printable PDF of the 2016 Festival Guide

Learn more about Day 1 | Blue Line events here

Learn more about Day 2 | Pink Line events here

IMG_32332nd Floor Rear 2016 artists and organizations abided by behavioral guidelines set forth by the Feminist Action Support Network: “Oppressive or harmful behavior is not welcome at any festival event. Oppressive behavior includes any action that perpetuates racism, misogyny, heterosexism, transphobia and other systemic oppressions through antagonism, silencing, intimidation, or coercion. Harmful behavior includes harassment, violence, and violation of consent.”

See feministactionsupportnetwork.tumblr.com/saferspaces to learn more about FASN Safer Spaces.


Sponsors & Partners

This project is partially supported by an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.


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Exhibiting Partners


2016 Fiscal Agent


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2016 Major Sponsor


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2016 Participating Sponsor




2016 Contributing Sponsor