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'Witches' Want To Exorcise Logan Square's Gentrification Demons

By Rachel Cromidas in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 26, 2016 6:02PM

A previous WITCH performance at the Thompson Center, via WITCH

It might take a divine intervention to slow the spread of gentrification and rise of new "luxury" apartments through Logan Square. In the meantime, a trio of performers collectively called WITCH plan to address the Northwest Side neighborhood's changing face in their own way: by putting a "hex" and "protective spell" on the area.

"WITCH will perform an Hex and a Protective Spell action in the triangle of Logan Square, close to the Logan Square Blue Line CTA stop, as part of the 2nd Floor Rear Festival of Itinerant Spaces," according to the Facebook event listing. "WITCH wants to bring attention to this dynamic, hex those who profit from it, and protect those who suffer from it."

But is it performance art, social justice, a literal pagan ritual, or something else? Chiara Galimberti, 34, says it's a mix of art and protest.

"We think of it in the art realm," she said, but the group also envisions elements of social justice playing a part in it, she told Chicagoist.

"We are calling them actions because it brings a level of seriousness and attention to the social justice aspects," Jessica Caponigro, 31 added. "We're not sitting around playing dress up."

Galimberti and Capongro are organizing the action with collaborator Amaranta Isyemille Ramos, who wasn't available to talk. The women, who live in Logan Square and Humboldt Park, say one of their goals is to tie the history of witchcraft's role in social justice movements and political resistance to the present day challenges facing Logan Square—particularly rising rents, ineffectual landlords and the burgeoning new developments that further threaten affordable housing in the area. That's where concepts like the "protective spell" come in.

"Even though we're talking about these really serious issues, and there's a lot of horrible stuff happening. [My hope is] that there's positive stuff coming out of it, people realizing they're not alone," Caponigro said. "That's what the protective spell we're doing is all about, so that it's not a purely negative thing."

So they may not actually be performing witchcraft. But according to Facebook, they wear a lot of black and one of them might have a ghost cat. So if anyone can exorcise Logan Square's gentrification demons, it's them.

The ritual performance event will take place at noon on Feb. 6 in the Logan Square triangle.