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Talk and Reception for Opening Passages at Experimental Station

Exhibition Opening, Talk

zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o'neal ©Jordan Campbell, Tonika Lewis Johnson ©Nyjah Johnson, Assia Labbas (self portrait), Carl Fuldner ©Jessica Smolinski, Clément Postec ©Nelson Bourreccarter

Experimental Station
6100 S Blackstone Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

May 4, 2024 Noon


Join us for the vernissage of the exhibition Opening Passages : Photographers Respond to Chicago and Paris at Experimental Station, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet the artists and curators in person. This event promises to be an enriching experience, offering insights into the creative processes behind the captivating works on display.

This outdoor installation presented in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood is part of a citywide, multi-site photographic exhibition produced by Villa Albertine and its City/Cité program. It is also part of Art Design Chicago, a citywide collaboration initiated by the Terra Foundation for American Art that highlights the city’s artistic heritage and creative communities. It features recent works by ten American and French artists interested in the dynamic social landscapes of Chicago and Paris. Selections from all participating artists appear together downtown at the Chicago Cultural Center, while site-specific installations like this one highlight cross-cultural resonances between areas within the two cities.   

Photographs by two artists living and working on Chicago’s South Side, zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o’neal and Tonika Lewis Johnson, are shown here on 61st street along with a series of images produced along the Paris transit system by Assia Labbas. Together, these images invite us to reflect on how the histories of racial and socioeconomic division within each city have shaped the relationship between center and periphery and the particular connection each of us has to public spaces.  

The discussion between the artists will be moderated by exhibition curators Carl Fuldner and Clément Postec (Ateliers Médicis, Paris) and followed by a reception. The outdoor exhibition and reception are wheelchair accessible, but the talk is not.

Carl Fuldner

Carl Fuldner is a Chicago-based art historian and curator whose work engages photography’s role in shaping environmental perspectives. He holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Chicago, where he also currently teaches as an Assistant Instructional Professor in the Master of Art Program in the Humanities and the Department of Art History. He is also a co-editor of The Art Institute of Chicago Field Guide to Photography and Media, published in 2023.

Clément Postec

Artistic Advisor, Head of Exhibitions at Ateliers Médicis // Artistic Director at Nouveau Printemps. A curator and filmmaker, Clément Postec has been involved for more than ten years in the development of projects at the crossroads of cinema and contemporary art (films, exhibitions) as well as the deployment of cultural venues and institutions. For Ateliers Médicis, he designs artistic programs (commissions, residencies, workshops, editions) and has curated exhibitions such as Regards du Grand Paris in 2022. In 2024, he was appointed Artistic Director of the festival Le Nouveau Printemps de Toulouse.

zakkiyah najeebah dumas-o’neal

Recipient in 2023 of the Chicagoland Seen grant commission funded by the Chicago chapter of the Albertine Foundation, zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o’neal is a Chicago-based visual artist. Her work engages a more nuanced understanding of selfhood and Black femme existentialism, navigating the intricacies and complications of belonging and aliveness across time, location, and space. Her work has been presented in various forms at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, NADA, The Art Institute of Chicago, Centre Pompidou, The August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Chicago Humanities Festival, DePaul University, EXPO Chicago, and Harvard Graduate School of Design to name a few. She has held research forward artist residencies at the University of Chicago, Indiana University, and was a 2022 3Arts Awardee. Her work is represented in both private and public collections, including the Block Museum of Art and The Eskenazi Museum of Art.

With in the open you are here, dumas-o’neal creates quietly radical art that advances the possibility of Black autonomy and self-determination from within the historically fraught terrain of landscape art.

my reverie, series in the open, you are here, 2024, ©zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o’neal

Tonika Lewis Johnson

2023 laureate of the national photographic commission Regards du Grand Paris, led by the Ateliers Médicis in collaboration with the Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap), Tonika Johnson is a photographer and social justice artist from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. She explores urban segregation and challenges media portrayals of violence in the city through her art. Recognized citywide in recent years, she was named the National Public Housing Museum’s 2021 Artist as Instigator, currently working on her project Inequity for Sale, highlighting the historical context of Greater Englewood homes sold through Land Sale Contracts in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 2018, Johnson posed a question to teenagers of color on Chicago’s South Side: “Where have you felt you didn’t belong?” She photographed them in those places and recorded their stories. When invited to a residency in Clichy-sous-Bois by Ateliers Médicis, she expanded her Belonging series into a transatlantic conversation about racial divisions in urban areas.

Jason, Hyde Park, Chicago, 18, series Belonging, 2019 ©Tonika Lewis Johnson

Assia Labbas

Assia Labbas, a writer and artist from the Paris region, studied literature and journalism before contributing to publications for Bondy Blog, The New York Times, and Vanity Fair. She joined Kourtrajmé School in 2019, writing a short film screenplay and creating the Cacophonique installation exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2020. In 2021 she was a laureate of the national photographic commission Regards du grand Paris carried out by the Ateliers Médicis in collaboration with the Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap), aimed at documenting the contemporary urban upheavals at work in the French capital.

In her RER B-ANLIEUES series, she combines photography with testimonials from users of the RER B line, which connects the northern suburbs of Paris with the center of the capital, revealing unexpected perspectives on the landscape of the area and those living in, and the impact of media discourse on the people living in Seine-Saint-Denis.

Beau Sevran, series RER B-ANLIEUES, 2021 ©Assia Labbas

Since 2021, the Paris-Chicago dialogue has been flourishing under the umbrella of Clichycago: a platform for community-based cultural exchange and artistic experimentation, with the support of the Ateliers Médicis in Clichy-sous-Bois / Montfermeil (France) and Villa Albertine in Chicago.

In partnership with

Experimental Station

Experimental Station is an independent cultural infrastructure established on Chicago’s South Side, fostering a vibrant ecology of innovative educational and cultural programs, small business ventures and community initiatives. It was founded in 2002 by Dan Peterman and Connie Spreen based on over 30 years of socially, artistically, and environmentally significant projects.

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Ateliers Médicis

Located in Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil, in the Seine-Saint-Denis department, the Ateliers Médicis endeavors to promote new and diverse artistic voices. Its artistic residencies, open to artists working in any artistic field, support the creation of works conceived in collaboration with French territories and fosters encounters between artists and inhabitants.


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Institut français

The Institut français is responsible for France’s international cultural program. Supervised by both the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and by the Ministry of Culture, it promotes French culture abroad through cultural exchange initiatives. Operating in a space where the arts, intellectual exchange, cultural and social innovation, and linguistic partnerships interact and intersect, it is also responsible for promoting the French language and the sharing of works, artists, and ideas all over the world. The Institut français is one of Villa Albertine’s main French partners.

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Terra Foundation for the American Arts

In partnership with organizations and individuals locally and globally, the Terra Foundation fosters intercultural dialogues and encourages transformative practices to expand narratives of American art. Art Design Chicago is an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art in partnership with artists and organizations across the city that highlight the city’s artistic heritage and creative communities.

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Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap)

The Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap) is a public institution under the French Ministry of Culture. It manages over 105,000 works from France’s national contemporary art collection, the Fonds national d’art contemporain. It aims to support and promote artistic creation in France, and assists artists and art professionals with their projects.


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JCDecaux operates coordinated street furniture franchises in major cities across the U.S., including here in New York. It is continuously working to connect information to stakeholders and identify municipal innovations to enhance the livability and sustainability of streetscapes. A member of the JCDecaux Group, the number one outdoor advertising company in the world, which through its three business segments – street furniture, transport and billboard, has engaged in a virtuous, sustainable business model since its founding in 1964.
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