The Potemkin Model is a satirical allegory aimed at commenting on the historic dereliction of South side Chicago communities as a result of political/ nancial neglect and systematized racism, among other in uences. Using the frame of the design competition for the Obama Presidential Center in Washington Park and the Obama’s post-presidency life, it inhabits the friendship of President Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a means of storytelling, on a stage set in the Junction Grove community just West of Washington Park.
Assuming the Obama Presidential Center is set to open in Washington Park, the President’s staff has reached out to the Mayor to plan the route on which the processional ceremony will take place. Landing at O’Hare International Airport, President Obama will head down the Kennedy Expressway, exit on Randolph and make his rst stop at the Mayor’s Of ce on North LaSalle Drive. From there the Mayor will accompany him and his motorcade East to Lake Shore Drive and then South to the University of Chicago for his second stop at the Law School to visit his old colleagues. He will then carry on West along 60th Street on a small detour so Mayor Emanuel can show off the rapid growth strategies that he says have revitalized the heavily vacant community area. The Mayor then takes him up State Street to Gar eld Boulevard where he will complete the nal leg of his procession to his Presidential Center in Washington Park.
Mayor Emanuel has employed the community members to hold a variety of roles within his theatre of development. Small business owners, tourists, residents, and community activists are among the characters that have been cast. The Mayor has further called upon theatre and performance arts students from Columbia College Chicago to provide scripts and acting classes for those who will be in the show, and he has asked that people dress in their ‘Sunday best’ on the day of the ceremony.
Inspired by the mythical Russian tales of the Potemkin Village, in which governor Grigory Potemkin erected mobile villages along the Dnieper River to trick his Empress Catherine II into believing he had accomplished his task of revitalizing and repopulating the newly gained territories of the Russian Empire. Mayor Rahm Emanuel hopes his constructed corridors through the Junction Grove community will have the same effect on the President.