Map of Petropliis, City of Desire, city of Ashes

Brian Holmes: Petropolis—Spring, 2017 (Place and time TBA)

Brian Holmes will speak about the new project Petropolis: a networked map/archive combining open-source software, public information, citizen and corporate journalism, direct observation by individuals and groups, plus original contributions by engaged artists. The story begins on the South Side of Chicago in the Calumet region, and expands to metropolitan, continental and global scales. Icons and colored lines represent industrial installations, power plants, ports, railroads and pipelines, as well as sites of crucial events. Click on any of these and you will find images, narratives, information, links, videos and sometimes even fiction or poetry. Here and there, icons of animals appear: they have been chosen by participating artists to signal their contributions. On the ground in the Calumet region, wide-open vigilant eyes link to portraits of community activists, who took a stand against the dusty piles of petcoke polluting their neighborhoods.


Brian Holmes is an art and cultural critic with a PhD in Romance Languages. He has a longstanding interest in neoliberal globalization and a taste for on-the-ground intervention. From 1990 to 2009 he lived in Paris, collaborated with political art groups such as Ne Pas Plier, Bureau d’Etudes, Public Netbase, Hackitectura, Makrolab and others, and published in journals such as Multitudes, Springerin, and Brumaria. With Claire Pentecost and the 16 Beaver Group he co-organized the Continental Drift seminars from 2005 to 2009, with variations up to the present. His essays revolve around art, free cooperation, the network society, political economy and greassroots resistance ( In Chicago he is a member of the Compass group (, teaches a class a year at UIC, and is working with Rozalinda Borcila on a geographical investigation called “Foreign Trade Zone,” opening at Three Walls on April 25.

Petropolis map

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