The Red Line Labyrinth

Walis Johnson collaborated with WalkingLab to enact a Red Line Labyrinth as part of her ongoing research into Redlining in New York City.

Can an artist intervention translate contested spatial and racial narratives that define the real and imagined landscape of New York? The Red Line Project brings together discursive, often unruly and seemingly disconnected fragments of the artist’s research and family history of property ownership in Brooklyn. Through an examination of this material and visual culture the past is made visible in the present. As part of an on-going exploration of walking as research practice and the historical legacy of U.S. Federal Home Owners Loan Corporation’s 1938 Red Line Map, artist Walis Johnson has created a community participatory walk — The Red Line Labyrinth — that builds upon these resonant themes to address the relationship between present-day political urgencies including gentrification, displacement and the historic practice of race-based, real estate redlining.

About The Red Line Labyrinth

Solvitur ambulando is a Latin term which means “it is solved by walking” and is used to refer to a problem which is solved by a practical experiment. When carrying the burdens of the past, our relationships suffer and our creativity is limited. Myths of the American Dream and “bootstrap” economics often obstruct dialogue about the reality of our social and economic lives impacted by the racial and economic discriminatory mapping process of redlining, which are multilayered, structural and systemic.The artist invites local residents to walk as we contemplate together the long and pernicious legacy of redlining to see what insights or solutions might emerge. How might we begin to “re-map” or create a “new” geography and collective record of New York urban space that is inclusive and empowering for black people, working class, communities of color and the community at large? The Red Line Labyrinth may help provide new answers and, perhaps, a way forward.

The Labyrinth was presented as part of Weeksville Weekend, a day-long monthly open house for the general public.

Editor – Walis Johnson
Cinematography – Teodora Altomare


This project was made possible in part by funding and support from Culture Push, Inc.