Committee of Six

Fred Schmidt-Arenales’ (Alum Berlin ’20) film Committee of Six,’ Chicago (2020) continues the artist’s work from 2017, as part of the Graham Foundation’s Grantee Project programme.

Fred Schmidt-Arenales, Film still from “Committee of Six,” Chicago, 2020. Courtesy the artist and Graham Foundation

Committee of Six

Committee of Six is an enactment of a series of archival documents from the Special Collections Archive the University of Chicago. These documents are rough transcripts of meetings between administrators and University officials in 1955, in which they colluded with the City and State government to create an “Urban Renewal Program” for the neighborhood of Hyde Park, situated in the south side of Chicago. Their efforts established many of the legal precedents subsequently used by other large Universities to shape the demographics and architecture of the urban spaces they inhabit, including the University of Pennsylvania.

Committee of Six, Single Channel Video, Color, 09:30 (2017)

In the 1950s administrators at the University of Chicago and community members in Hyde Park faced what they perceived as an existential crisis: predominantly white, upper middle class residents in the surrounding neighborhood were fleeing and Black people were moving in. Multiple task forces were created to address this “crisis” and maintain the racial and class composition of the neighborhood. Concerned citizens and community leaders formed the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC) and the University created the Southeast Chicago Commission (SECC). Drawing from the archives of these organizations, this film speculatively recreates scenes, meetings, and encounters from this history. The events and decisions made in Hyde Park, mostly by the University of Chicago, became a model of urban renewal for many cities in the US in the second half of the twentieth century. The film depicts university officials and community members in Hyde Park as they laid the groundwork for a set of policies and practices that continue to define how race is construed in cities to this day.
via Graham Foundation


About Fred Schmidt-Arenales

Fred Schmidt-Arenales is an artist, filmmaker, and organizer. His projects frequently confront specific mechanisms of white supremacy. He has presented performances and experimental video and audio works internationally at venues including Künstlerhaus Halle für Kunst und Medien, Graz; Links Hall and Ballroom Projects, Chicago; The Darling Foundry, Montreal; Pieter Performance Space and NAVEL, Los Angeles; LightBox and The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Philadelphia; The Brick Theatre, Abrons Arts Center, and Dixon Place, New York; and Kunsthalle, Vienna. He has also organized workshops, conferences, and classes on collaborative strategies and group dynamics at various arts organizations and schools including the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago; and Abrons Arts Center, New York. Schmidt-Arenales holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and his master’s in fine arts from the University of Pennsylvania.