72 Hours: Context

In 2009, at the height of the housing crisis, neighborhoods in Boston that had historically been red-lined by the Federal Housing Administration—such as the Four Corners area of Dorchester, to the South of the city center—became ground zero for the fight of working-class communities of color to remain in their neighborhoods.

City Life/Vida Urbana, which organizes residents in Boston to stave off displacement, was locked in struggle with Deutsche Bank. As one of the largest owner of mortgages in the neighborhood, Deutsche Bank was refusing to sell foreclosed properties back to their original owners at current market rates—which would have allowed residents to stay in their homes post-foreclosure.

In response to the bank’s refusal to negotiate, members of CL/VU, in collaboration with the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, began a series of escalating actions, culminating in the occupation of 19-21 Bullard Street in Dorchester. 72 Hours was developed with displaced homeowners over the course of several months. It was installed in a series of homes that were in the process of foreclosure to evoke the experiences, and absences, of displaced neighborhood residents.

“Shadow forms flicker through the windows of an empty home. In one window, a family gathers around the dinner table. In another, a group of children play games. The home is empty – its residents moved out months ago – but over the course of an evening, it is lit up from within by shadow projections. From the street, passersby witness unfolding events that reveal the life of the building’s former residents. Then, a constable arrives, delivering a 72-hour eviction notice. Someone hurls a pile of bank documents into the air. A woman watches as a moving crew evicts her from her home.”

An expanded description of the project, along with participants' stories and testimonials, is available in the March, 2010 issue of Groundswell Journal.