Posted inArt

Detroit Fire Sale: Everything and the Kitchen Rodin

Not long ago, artist Jerry Vile placed a giant Crisco can in front of the “Monument to Joe Louis,” a giant sculpture of a fist in downtown Detroit, as a lewd but hilarious and spot-on commentary on the city’s bankruptcy. Local media glommed onto the stunt immediately: it was a welcome break from the gloomy shroud of news that’s settled over the Motor City. Last week, the artist returned to his guerrilla tactics, hanging oversize DayGlo tag sale signs on landmarks around the city with a crew of collaborators.

Posted inArt

Soak the Insurers and Save Detroit’s Pensioners

Last night, a suburban board in Detroit signaled its intent to pass a resolution discontinuing the collection of the special tax voted in to support the Detroit Institute of Arts should the institution’s art or assets be liquidated. There remains a great deal of anxiety over whether or not Detroit will have to liquidate at least some works in the Detroit Institute of Art collection, a fear which has also culminated in today’s collective action in art media — a day of solidarity. Which is all fine and well (this publication’s Tumblr presence, Hyperallergic LABS, will be participating), but what might be of greater interest to those concerned about the fate of the DIA is a more thorough understanding of how the defaults on the city’s various financial obligations actually affect the Detroit Institute of Arts’s “assets.”

Posted inArt

For Chicago, Detroit Isn’t a Distant Reality

CHICAGO — Much like the city of Detroit’s epic economic saga, this story took me on a wild goose chase. I’m an art journalist reporting on Detroit from Chicago — or, if you would prefer, the Motor City from the Windy City — and that seems odd. The media craze around Detroit just won’t quit, and Chicago is increasingly finding itself implicated in it all. Perhaps the artists are to blame.

Posted inArt

Community Art Project Victimized by Arson Rises from the Ashes

The Heidelberg Project was started as a way to transform the depressing decay of an east Detroit neighborhood, but it has since experienced its own set of devastations. In both 1991 and 1999, parts of it were demolished, and just this past month there was a fire that wrecked its oldest house. Now the Heidelberg Project is working to turn the charred remains of that structure into a new installation, re-imagining it for a second time from dilapidation.

Posted inOpinion

A Plea for Detroit [UPDATED]

On May 24 the news broke that Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, was considering whether the city could or should sell off the art collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) to help pay back its debts. The reactions pretty much range from “this is a bad idea” to “this is a terrible idea.”

Posted inArt

Populating the Empty Spaces of Detroit

What’s most often missing from pictures of Detroit are people. They don’t quite work in the landscape of ruin porn, enamored as it of empty, decaying spaces that seem beautiful precisely because they’re devoid of the life they once had. Showing people would suggest that Detroit is more than just a string of abandoned tableaux waiting to be photographed by the next person passing through.