Blood Lines: remembering the 1919 Chicago race riot

Blood Lines floor map
Death locations marked on a neighborhood map of the 1919 uprising recreated on the floor of Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park

Blood Lines – an installation for long wires, wood sculpture, and computer-driven activators

Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park, Nancy Goede, Pastor
July 27 – October 31, 2019

Christophe Preissing, concept and sound composition
David Sundry, sculpture and visual design
Hugh Sato, mechanical fabrication and programming

Blood Lines is a metaphor for the “deadline” that separated Chicago’s Black Belt from the white immigrant communities of Packingtown at the beginning of the 20th century. The installation remembers those who died in the uprising of that “red summer.” The 38 deaths attributed to the riot are represented by 15 long wires placed in the center aisle to separate Augustana Lutheran Church’s nave into two parts. Each wire is connected to a mechanical activation system, a wooden sculpture, and sound resonator. The sustained sound of the wires are tuned and timed to correspond to the distance in space and time from Eugene Williams’ drowning on July 27 to each subsequent death. The timing of deaths—from July 27 through August 5—has been compressed into one hour. Long silences reflect the rolling violence and lulls in the killings.

Blood Lines – Online Video Installation

In the 2019 Blood Lines installation, we remembered those killed in the 1919 Chicago Race Riot. At two performances, Hyde Park community members read the name, age, race, and time, place, and manner of death of each person killed in sequence and in time with the long wire installation.

For the online video installation, we are seeking a diverse group of readers to recreate an interactive version of the Blood Lines installation. During this time of social distancing and cultural change we invite you to participate in this project by video recording yourself reading the name of one or more persons killed in the 1919 uprising. Readings will be combined with sound from the original long wire installation at Augustana and a video with maps, historical newspaper accounts and images, a timeline, images from the live installation, and current images from the neighborhood where the uprising occurred.

As of March 2021, we have over 50 video readings. NON:op will continue to accept video readings for Blood Lines in order to create an interactive experience of the installation.

Click on PARTICIPATE in the menu on the right for detailed information on how to participate.

Click on Video Readings in the menu on the right to view all of the current video readings.

Click on DOCUMENTS in the menu on the right to find out more about the 1919 Chicago race riot.