2nd Floor Rear 2017: RITUAL is moveable feast of artist-run events, projects, exhibitions, and performances that shine a light on the occult, hidden nature of alternative arts practices and the communities of care that spring up around them. The 2017 edition of 2nd Floor Rear kicks off with a dinner party on the evening of Friday, February 3, continues on Saturday, February 4, with events throughout Avondale, Logan Square, Humboldt Park, and Wicker Park, and wraps up wraps up on Sunday, February 5, with events spanning Pilsen and Little Village. Over 125 Chicago artists, curators, organizers, and venues are participating in 35 events.

Rituals have real power. They are settings for setting intentions. For relating. For establishing Will and carrying it forth. Rituals are experience as medium, meaning as medium, even the experience of making meaning as medium. Rituals are a space set apart. A moment-out-of-time. Rituals can create cohesion and structure, or hold space for ambiguity and transformation. 2nd Floor Rear 2017 programming asks of its makers and participating audiences: Can the act of simply being together make us stronger together? Can a self-care ritual truly be an act of political warfare? In this dystopian climate, can radical imagination and defiant joy help us conceive and perform the future? Are there any healers in the house tonight? Read the full curatorial statement here.



 A full schedule of event times and locations is currently available online. Printed guides will be distributed at festival events. All 2nd Floor Rear 2017 events are open to the public.

All 2nd Floor Rear events are artist-organized and artist-run. Artists may request cash donations at their events. We encourage you to honor creative labor by making a contribution at every 2nd Floor Rear event you attend. All donations go directly to the organizing artists.

Oppressive or harmful behavior is not welcome at 2nd Floor Rear events. 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)


2017 Festival Events



Download the Guide to February 3-4 events

Learn more about events on February 3-4 // off the Blue Line


Download the Guide to February 5 events

Learn more about events on February 5 // off the Pink Line


2017 Guided Walking Tours


For 2nd Floor Rear 2017, we’re testing out new educational programming—guided walking tours of select festival events, led by local museum professionals and arts educators. These tours will be free and open to the public, highly interactive and conversation-based, and somewhat improvisational. Learn more about how to take a tour here.


Read about some of the concepts behind the festival and this year’s theme on the Statements + Essays page, or check out the 2017 Tumblr.


Take a Survey

Take a 2017 Audience Feedback Survey:


Make an Offering

2nd Floor Rear isn’t just about bringing great work to the public. It’s about building creative communities and advocating for artistic labor. Each year, over half of our total budget goes to paid creative labor and artists’ support. We also buy and rent locally whenever possible, targeting businesses and community organizations that reflect our values. In other words, we don’t just throw a great art party. We invest in local culture.

There couldn’t be a more critical time to contribute to 2nd Floor Rear’s efforts. Truly. Creative laborers are always vulnerable to precarious conditions of market forces. While we can’t predict the future, the recent radical changes in the political administration portend a divestment from the culture sector. In this liminal moment between the scrappy optimism of the festival’s past and the uncertainty of what’s to come, the future of 2nd Floor Rear—its staff, the artists it features, and the audience it touches—does indeed tremble in the balance. Now more than ever, we aspire to bring the public low or no-cost accessible arts programming that is aesthetically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially edifying. Now more than ever, we want to financially invest in the people who work so hard to make the festival happen, and in so doing, invest in this city’s cultural richness.

2nd Floor Rear is, and always has been, a group effort. Donors are critical to that effort. Click the button below, take all of 90 seconds to pledge an amount, and make something beautiful happen with us this February.

We’re so glad you are with us.



Exhibiting Partners

2017 Grant Support




2017 Presenting Sponsor


2017 Fiscal Sponsor


2017 Sponsors