> Where I Should and Shouldn't Go


 

When I first moved to Chicago in 2003 people were constantly telling me where I should go while simultaneously warning me about where I should not go (usually for safety concerns, but sometimes on account of taste). I began to form a map in my mind based around these abstract cautions and commands, "don't go northwest, don't walk south, you should take a walk along the lake." The city was sliced into psychologically and physically divided zones based on individuals' personal experiences, media reports, and decades of urban planning. People seemed to have a clear idea about which blocks of the city are "good" and which are not; some areas were fit for walking around and exploring and enjoying, while other areas were off-limits, considered too dangerous, ugly, or culturally mismatched.

Confused by all the advice, I began asking people to give form to their guidelines by tracing onto vellum overlays where they thought I should and shouldn't go (green for go and red for don't go). The resulting maps are abstract blocks of fear, distaste, pleasure, and home - reflections both of the participant's view of the city and their view of me (a quiet, female, Asian/Caucasian avid pedestrian explorer). The resulting series Where I Should and Shouldn't Go is a compilation of 11" x 14" maps of central Chicago providing contradictory directions to the city.