Never The Same

Chicago artist and activist Daniel Tucker and Art Historian Rebecca Zorach expand a project entitled Never the Same which, since 2010, has sought to archive and document the history of Chicago’s rich storehouse of politically and socially engaged art practices. 

Beginning in the fall of 2010, Rebecca Zorach and Daniel Tucker began facilitating conversations about the possibility of archiving and documenting the history of Chicago's rich politically and socially engaged art practices. In the Spring of 2011 they began conducting interviews for the oral history portion of the project and in October of that year launched a website ( with the first 15 interviews. The groups and individuals interviewed spanned the geography of the city, and were active in years ranging from the late 1960s to the present. The interviews generally focus on a specific project or event, though many cover the full range of the career or organization being profiled. Most of the interviews deal with projects that have been incompletely documented or lacked representation in online resources, making basic firsthand accounts of the history of the projects and people readily available online in a search-optimized format for the first time. Rhetorically, the interviews foreground transformation and localism, as a way to intervene in the ongoing and increasingly prominent discourse around social art practices that lack language to deal with the catalytic effects that events, groups and sustained artistic collaborations have on the social fabric of a given place.

Never The Same also includes a physical and material archive that started with the personal collections of the organizers and has been opened up to include ephemera donated by interview subjects and others. This dimension of NTS began with seed funding provided by the Propeller Fund administered by ThreeWalls and Gallery 400, but will see its full development with the support of the Mellon Fellowship from the Gray Center at the University of Chicago in 2013.

Mellon Fellowship from the Gray Center at the University of Chicago: Expanding NTS in 2013

With the support of the Mellon Fellowship, NTS expand its capacity in several ways. We will establish an office space for the archive and will begin to facilitate regular encounters and a more ambitious publishing program. The new programmatic activities developed with the Mellon Fellowship will include a symposium about local, alternative, and subcultural archiving efforts nationally to take place June 7-8, 2013; a summer institute at the University of Chicago; an exhibition of commissioned art works developed by local artists in response to materials in the NTS archive; and finally a physical publication of the interviews and documentation of the year of programs and related projects to complement ongoing web publishing.


Never The Same: The Website