ABC No Rio


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ABC No Rio

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ABC No Rio is a social center located at 156 Rivington Street on New York City's Lower East Side that was founded in 1980. It features a gallery space, a zine library, a darkroom, a silkscreening studio, and public computer lab. In addition, ABC No Rio plays host to a number of radical projects in New York City, including weekly hardcore punk matinees and the NYC Food Not Bombs collective. ABC No Rio seeks to be a community center for the Lower East Side, sponsoring projects and benefits for the community, as well as a center of radical activism in New York City, promoting "do it yourself volunteerism, art and activism, without giving-in or selling-out to corporate sponsors."

By the late 1970s and 1980s, a growing squatter movement and a small but visible “downtown” arts scene developed from within the burgeoning gentrification of the largely Puerto Rican community in the Lower East Side. Beginning in the late 1960s, the Lower East Side of Manhattan was facing massive disinvestment by absentee landlords — by the late 1970s up to 80% of the area's housing stock was abandoned and in rem (seized by the city's government for non-payment of taxes).

The show ABC No Rio opened to the public on January 1, 1980; it was promptly shut down before the morning of January 2 by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). ABC No Rio itself grew out of the 1979 Real Estate Show, organized by the artists' group Colab (Collaborative Projects), in which a large group of artists seeking to foster connections between these communities occupied an abandoned building at 123 Delancey St. and turned it into a gallery to show solidarity with working people in a critique of the city's land use policies policies that in essence kept buildings empty until the area again attracted investment from developers and a demonstration of what can be achieved through solidarity. The show was to explicitly "illuminate no legal issues" and it called for "no rights"; instead, it was "preemptive and insurrectionary."

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