Caroline Rufo’s installation, “Intervisible,” a critique of historical redlining practices targeting Black homeowners around Boston, opened in SOWA in early March. Days later, the pandemic shuttered the Bromfield Gallery. Since its reopening in mid-June to an America convulsed by protests over George Floyd’s killing, Rufo’s interrogation of white complacency and governmental complicity in systemic racism could not be more timely.
“Intervisible”is a work of acknowledgment and atonement. Visitors enter a fluttering, papery maze of lacy floor-to- ceiling curtains bounded by quilted, hand-dyed cotton batting stitched together and pinned to the walls. The flat shapes of blue, green, yellow, white and red correspond to a 1937 Residential Security map of Boston’s neighborhoods issued by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, a federal agency created during the New Deal. The HOLC gathered personal and financial data about mortgage applicants, home values and neighborhood racial composition and produced racially color-coded maps for hundreds of cities, intended to identify and disqualify Blacks from obtaining the federally-subsidized homeowners’ insurance that was required for a conventional mortgage.