Neighborhood Research Institute (2016)

The Neighborhood Research Institute is a collaboratively developed art project, data collection site, and living archive of research from the Sunnyside and Richmond neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon collected in the spring of 2016. The two-month project is an experiment in artistic research that utilizes methods from ethnographic and historical research in combination with exploratory methods developed by the artists. It was hosted by LIKEWISE (an artist-run bar) and funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation and the Calligram Foundation through a Precipice Grant.

Along with more traditional methods for collecting research like oral history recording, photo documentation, and informational surveys, Crews, Adam Moser, and Nancy Prior organized alternative forms of neighborhood research like a weekly lecture series by artists who live in the neighborhood, side-car motorcycle rides for the public given by a neighbor, a Beers from the Neighborhood Archive which collects beers from neighbors’ fridges and replaces the beer logos with a photo of the neighbor who donated it, a tour of the Van Veen Nursary by owner and long-time resident Kathy Van Veen, Neighborly Behavior prompt cards distributed to residents throughout the neighborhood, and a Large Acquisitions Lending Shelf that features a rotating set of large objects lent to the institute by neighbors for one week at a time.

The research is primarily collected through social engagement with and between neighbors, but the researchers are also sifting through archival and secondary data to learn more about the formation and maintenance of the neighborhoods. All of the information and objects collected are organized as a store-front installation in LIKEWISE (located in the Richmond neighborhood) during April and May 2016, and at the end of the residency, the artists will produce a book of stories, interviews, and research documentation that expands what it means to categorize oneself as a neighbor in a community that is rapidly changing as a result of gentrification.

In the field. Photos courtesy of NRI.