ICA USA’s Fifth City revisited through Chicago artist’s interpretation

Fifth City revisited - photosMeida Teresa McNeal is a performing artist with Honey Pot Performance, Arts & Culture Manager for Chicago Park District, and a self-described “artist-administrator-educator”. She grew up in the Fifth City neighborhood of East Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side, where her parents participated in ICA’s Fifth City community development project in the 1960s.

Curious about her own memories and her parents’ stories, Meida began to explore the history of Fifth City. Her journey eventually led her to ICA USA’s Global Archives, where she connected with colleagues Jean Long, Karen Snyder, and Pam Bergdall, among others. The wealth of information—records, reports, stories—in the Archives helped Meida develop her solo performance project, entitled Fifth City revisited / Imaginal Politics reimagined, which she performed four times in Chicago this past month.

Fifth City revisited weaves together interpretive dance, spoken word, symbol, audio, video, props, and dynamic lighting into an hour-long meditation on the implications of the Fifth City project on everything from her childhood and family to discriminatory policy, urban planning, and contemporary movements for social justice. It is a stunning work that presents an uncanny understanding of ICA’s history and values while effectively contextualizing them for a broader audience.

While there are currently no scheduled performances, Meida has expressed interest in bringing the performance home to the West Side for additional showings. Recordings were made of two of the performances, which she hopes to share in the coming weeks. In the meantime, ICA-USA has shared an album of photos from the opening night that includes the event program.

This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, July 2019.