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DETROIT — The rumors are true: Detroit’s contemporary art scene thrives. The rumors are also true: [insert standard boilerplate about Detroit’s struggles]. For my first article for Hyperallergic, I provide a brief guide to Detroit’s contemporary art scene.
For when you visit, below is a list of my top five art destinations.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
MoCAD just celebrated its fifth anniversary. MoCAD brings Detroiters historical conceptual artists, such as James Lee Byars and Lee Lozano, and it brings Detroiters established and rising stars in conceptual arts, such as Stéphani Nava, Pablo Helguera, Rivane Neuenschwander, Mike Kelley, and Martha Friedman. MoCAD is housed in a former car dealership and has more than 22,000 square feet to use for installations. Sadly, MoCAD’s energetic Director, Luis Croquer, recently decided that he would not renew his contract at MoCAD, yet MoCAD has a committed support system to ensure it will build on Luis’s successes.
Detroit Institute of Arts
The DIA is over 125 years-old, but it still embraces contemporary art. It regularlly purchases artwork from contemporary artists, and it hosts contemporary lectures and installations. The DIA currently has a photography and video exhibit, Detroit Revealed: Photographs 2000-2010, that explores the various layers of this city in a more substantive manner than the various abandoned buildings of Detroit images. Last year the DIA brought us The Neighborhood Project, which showcased the Design 99 team of Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert, who are loud voices for the concept that fine art and design can add texture and invoke an important dialogue about Detroit’s neighborhoods.
Urban Art Playgrounds
There are no art projects too grand in scale or concept for Detroit. One of the more adventurous and long lasting outdoor art projects is The Heidelberg Project. This is an art space that you truly have to experience: You drive into a bad neighborhood, believe that you are lost, and then you turn the corner and are presented with an outdoor museum to the creative spirit of one resident, Tyree Guyton. Through use of his ubiquitous dots and hundred of found objects (that range from abandoned shoes to abandoned buses), he created an outdoor art exhibit in a Detroit neighborhood, which has fascinated Detroiters since 1986. While The Heidelberg Project is one of the longest lasting projects, there are discrete art events of late that embrace the concept of large scale art projects (and these art projects are constantly in the works, so it is something to keep on your radar when you visit). Last year, Matthew Barney captivated the art world elite with his KHU performance, which was a multi-site over the top performance that included the dredging up and the eventual melting down of a 1967 Chrysler Imperial. The artist group 2:1 initially brought Detroit Ice House Detroit, where they encased an abandoned hose in ice to highlight the national housing crisis, and this past year they brought us Fire House Detroit, where they staged a collaborative sound installation at a re-purposed Fire Station.
Contemporary Art Mainstays
Detroit is lucky. Its founders prepared the cultural soil well, so that ideas flourish here. Music grows here. Theatre grows here. Fine Art grows here. And there are certain mainstays of the contemporary art scene that have inspired art enthusiasts for decades. Since 1907, the Scarab Club has cultivated and attracted leading figures in the art world (it keeps an ongoing record of some of the luminaries that visit: on a beam of the second floor lounge are the signatures of Marcel Duchamp, Diego Rivera, Norman Rockwell, Julian Force, and John Sinclair, among others). Here you can discover spoken word poetry, high caliber juried shows, and studio tours of some of the top area artists, among other events. Nearby you can see juried shows that include the DAM Unmentionables show, the DAM Boxes show, the DAM Small(er) show, and the DAM Design show, among other annual and biennial shows at the Detroit Artists Market (DAM), which has influenced Detroit’s arts and culture since 1932. While the Scarab Club and DAM showcase artists that experiment with materials and subject matter, they are still the best venues to find work steeped in traditional painting techniques.
The newest movement in Detroit is experimental art venues. First, Tate Osten brought Detroit the Kunsthalle Detroit Light Museum. This Museum encourages a deeper appreciation for contemporary video work and light-based arts. It opened with a successful group exhibition that received national praise. The group exhibition included 12 large scale video installations by established artists such as Sebastian Diaz Morales, Hans Op de Beek, and Christina Lucas. Second, the 2:1 art group (Ice House and Fire House mentioned above) brought Detroit the 2:1 Gallery, which will focus on sound experiments. For its first show, 2:1 Gallery shuffled
viewers listeners to the basement of the gallery, and then gallery goers sat and listened to a gifted dance troupe dance, shuffle, drag, and otherwise create a unique sensory experience.
This is just a flyby of some of the “don’t miss” venues, and I made sure to focus on the core Downtown area. In future posts I’ll highlight some of the other galleries Downtown and in Metro Detroit. But hopefully the above introduction is enough to whet your appetite.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…