Neighborhood Time Exchange: Kandis Friesen

Neighborhood Time Exchange artist-in-residence Kandis Friesen's installation Redline From the recent series Municipal Inventories, Redline is an abstract visual text on violent community displacement through gentrification and discriminatory policies, specifically focusing on the historic African-American community The Black Bottom in the neighbourhood of West Philadelphia, USA. The experimental animated work compiles contemporary and historical images of relocated neighbourhoods, the language of displacement, and the legacies of racist American housing policies to portray a conflated present tense of current tensions and resistance. Emerging from research and work during a residency in West Philadelphia, Redline takes the 1930s HOLC maps as it’s starting point, following the 'redlined' borders to the present, illustrating such insidious political legacies. The layered images – re-worked and re-projected within the video itself – feature maps of the evicted (now-diasporic) Black Bottom community, the redlined zone maps, archival city images, and topographical maps of contested U of Penn development plans, alongside a simple repeating text, ruminating on the language of displacement and the legibility of its violence. Photo by Albert Yee.

About the Artist and Her Projects 

Kandis Friesen is an artist and cultural worker from Montréal, Québec, Canada. She uses drawing, video, performance, and installation to look critically at how culture, language, and archives are used to construct public memory. She teaches arts workshops – in university, school, prison, art, and community settings – that are open and accessible spaces for learning, experimentation, and cultural expression.

While living and working in West Philadelphia, I came across several community murals dedicated to the memory of the Black Bottom — its long and beautiful history, strong resistance, and forcible eviction by colluding university and government forces. Hyperaware of ongoing gentrification in West Philadelphia — paralleled in immigrant, working class, and communities of color in my own city of Montreal, as in many cities worldwide — I dug into the history of the ‘urban renewal’ policies and university-driven development displacement of the 1960s, racist policies evident in the 1930s HOLC redlining maps, and their connection to current trends of displacement in West Philadelphia. My work as an artist has focused on erasure, on the legibility of latent histories, and on the sites of resistance that the structures of power would rather keep buried.