Opinion

Another Oblivious Artist Comes to Detroit, Accidentally Lets Tiger Loose

tiger-detroit
(GIF by Hrag Vartanian via instagram.com/mademan_chello264)

DETROIT — With the rise of Detroit as a sexy location for artistic spirits to be free from the confines of civilization, has come a backlash from everyday Detroiters, wondering what, exactly, is so blank about the city’s canvas.

From an outside perspective, it might be hard to understand how the denizens of such a radically depopulated city could possibly object to people coming here to pursue their vision. If only there were a convenient metaphor to be torn from the headlines — something that demonstrates a complete lack of awareness that there are people living in this sometimes eerily post-apocalyptic city, and that someone’s crazy dreams might have a negative impact on the surrounding community …

Hey, did you hear some jackass let a tiger loose in the Packard Plant yesterday?

When fine art photographer and conservationist David Yarrow booked the former Packard Automotive Plant — the country’s largest surviving industrial ruin and, alongside the abandoned Michigan Central Station, one of the most iconic locales exposing Detroit’s fall from industrial glory — he apparently failed to mention that he would be bringing some on-camera talent in the form of a bobcat, two wolves, and a tiger that, in the immortal words of Chris Rock, “went tiger.”

Here’s the thing about Detroit: when your plans go terribly awry, and you are faced with a problem of epic proportions, you can actually rely on Detroiters to suit up, show up, and bail you out. In this case, President of the Detroit Bus Company Andy Didorosi came on the scene to assist in corralling the creature, in a move that he characterizes as “the dumbest thing we’ve ever done” and chronicles in a video posted to his Facebook page.

And, in light of no one being, y’know, mauled by a tiger, this is all pretty funny. But in point of fact, this tiger went loose in an area where real people live, work, ride bikes, and let their children play. As artist K. Guillory of the Ashur Collective pointed out to Hyperallergic, this moment underscores the inherent disrespect paid to existing Detroiters, as new folks turn up and start screwing around without first gaining a clear understanding of the landscape. This city, and particularly the longstanding residents that have held it intact against unimaginable adversity have collectively been through hell and can handle just about anything. But for goodness sake, show a little respect. Tigers have already caused enough pain in Detroit this year.

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