Successful Failures: Thirty Years of Lumpens, Radical Media and Building Communities of the Future

October 16, 2021—February 6, 2022

Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Chicago Cultural Center  >  Visual Art Program  >  Exhibitions  >  Past Exhibitions  >  Successful Failures: Thirty Years of Lumpens, Radical Media and Building Communities of the Future


Artropolis(click on image to enlarge)


In Chicago, we can make and do anything we want, when we try. Through the certainty of chance, collective engagement, casual encounters, and accidental actions, The Lumpen Times, an underground magazine, became the hub for a series of cultural platforms spawning hundreds of projects, spaces, happenings, exhibitions, and initiatives.

Collaborators from all walks of life built platforms including cultural sites, publications, mutual aid networks, and entrepreneurial spaces. These projects were often short-lived, but as each receded, inevitably it fueled a new one in its wake. Our collective success through repeated failure is explored in this exhibition.

Here, Chicago Cultural Center galleries are transformed into a catalog of strategies, highlighting dozens of “case studies” demonstrating how artists, activists, educators, and creative entrepreneurs of all stripes have built community and culture in our beloved city. Each study includes the reason it started, examples of its production, and the reasons it failed, mutated, or continues to this day.

Successful Failures is a sampling of one broad ecosystem of businesses, art, and media projects. Through it, we invite you to contribute your own projects to our growing archive of successful failures.


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