Artist Statement

How is the City your studio? "Chicago, its present and past, is the starting point for every project we do. It is the city that most clearly expresses how the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth and then the twenty-first. Its history is deep, and its present-day communities are generous. We've been very fortunate to have done several projects that brought together multiple communities at a specific site in the city to show that the past can be a public space."

Featured Artist Portrait by Joe Mazza | Brave Lux Chicago

Working with other artists, musicians, scholars, and fabricators, I take forms commonly used to narrate history before a public--the talk, walk, and reenactment--and open them up to make them engaged and interactive. I believe that the past is a public space, where everyone has something to contribute, and our performances try to make public art accessible and engaging to a diverse, multi-generational audience and to foster relationships between arts and community organizations that extend beyond a given project. "Work, Working, Worked" does this for the Bridgeport community and, through the magic of radio, the city as a whole.
I believe that the present, everything that we take as a given, is the result of past choices and past struggles. This can be disheartening because whatever we value or consider good can be undone, often more easily than we think. But this belief can also be inspiring in that whatever is good in the present was produced by smart, dedicated, and resourceful people in the past--and we can learn from their choices and actions and produce a better tomorrow.
What's Next?
Pocket Guide to Hell is working with artist Andres Hernandez and author Audrey Petty to produce a Cabrini-Green walking tour in September; the curatorial collective Third Object to create a Humboldt Park historical soundscape in October; the Chicago Park District to commemorate Camp Douglas with an encampment and symposium in November; and the Hideout to mark the 100th anniversary of the funeral of Joe Hill with a concert reenactment in late November.
Paul Durica is a teacher, writer, and public historian. In 2008, he started Pocket Guide to Hell, a series of talks, walks, and reenactments focused on Chicago's past that has worked with arts and cultural institutions from across the city. Durica is the Director of Programs for Illinois Humanities.