Monday, April 5, 2010

critique of demolitions

I just listened to this interview about some of the fears of Mayor Bing's demolition.

Detroit Entrepreneurship

This post is for Brad and Detroit's opportunities for new businesses...even out of the home. The article was in the Metro Times (here). Jay Thunderbolt (the entrepreneur) was shot in the head when he was 11, is still in Detroit, and contributing to Detroit's economic diversity. The blogger for this article also has some other interesting posts (articles) concerning Detroit.

Residential Demolition Program

I came across this information about the residential demolition program that recently started work this April. I thought it would be interesting to the group and our various ideas. Here is a link to an article at a Detroit news site and also to Data Driven Detroit which has some interesting links.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sustainability & Detroit

Hey All, here are links to what I presented in class last week:

Hantz Farms
About John Hantz (Detroit News)
(Fortune-CNN Money)
Slow Food Detroit
Dining In Detroit
The Urban Hunter (article)
Wild Spring Edibles
Detroit Blog (here)
Detroit Sustainability Training
Solomon Tree

The DetroitBlog, (a Detroit blogger obv.) is also on facebook, where he complies Detroit events, articles from the MetroTimes and Detroit News, and his own photo journals. Look (here).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thought you Might be interested in this organization. Looks like they'll be on the Empire Builder!

InCUBATE is a research group dedicated to exploring new approaches to arts administration and arts funding. We at InCUBATE act as curators, researchers and co-producers of artists projects. These activities have manifested in a series traveling exhibitions called Other Options, an artist residency program, and various other projects such as Sunday Soup (a monthly meal that generates funding for a creative project grant). We don’t have non-profit status, instead we are interested in what kinds of organizational strategies could provide more direct support to critical and socially-engaged art and culture beyond for-profit or non-profit structures. Our core organizational principle is to treat art administration as a creative practice. By doing so, we hope to generate and share a new vocabulary of practical solutions to the everyday problems of producing under-the-radar culture. Currently we do not have a physical location and we work together on an ongoing project basis.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

10 Detroit Schools Set for Demolition

Is there potential for a project here?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Reading Choice

Hi all,

I would like to read "The Collaborative Turn" by Maria Lind.

Thanks Danielle. Please sign me up!

Reading Captains and Proposal for Engagement

Hi All,

I thought I'd write down the specs on your assignment which is a proposal. First, however, I'd like to find out who the captains will be for the reading packets I gave you (James, your packet is in your studio). These readings deal with the issues, challenges, and discourse that arise when creative practices take place in communities. Pick one of the readings that you'll be prepared to summarize, challenge, reflect on, etc. Please read the entire packet, but be prepared to talk in greater depth about the one you are signing up for. We'll talk about the readings after I show you some projects next Monday, 3/29.

Also, as there are at least 2 captains three of the chapters/writings, you are welcome to divide up the assignment in halves or thirds....Let us all know via blog which reading you'd like to sign up for.

SAL RANDOLPH's LETTER (please look at her site as well @


GRANT KESTER, Dialogical Aesthetics

CLAIRE BISHOP, Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics
1. Ashley

MARIA LIND, The Collaborative Turn

I will also be providing you with a reading packet within the week that exemplifies a range of community-based and relational projects, and social sculpture that has been done. We will not discuss the readings but they will spur you on as you develop your own proposal. My goal is that these readings are a solid starter pack for your own dialogue about creative approaches in communities, and that you will be familiar with the theorists and artists who have created, challenged, and expanded this trajectory of practice.'s the assignment reiterated:
You are to create 1-2 proposals that elucidate a way that Detroit and your "hometown" can have an engagement. Your area of research should reside at the center of this engagement.

-One of your proposals should be a FANTASY proposal (no rules, no budget, no limitations).
- The other should be a PRACTICAL proposal (How might you really go about making this happen? What are the first few steps you'll need to take?)
If it makes more sense to have your fantasy and practical proposal cojoin as ONE PROPOSAL, that is fine!

Your proposed engagement should occur in 2 places at once (please don't have your proposal engage with Detroit only)

Some questions you might ask yourself:

-How can your proposal make Detroit and your "hometown" see each other? (Perhaps even smell, taste, hear, touch one another...)
-How can your proposal make Detroit and your "hometown" share resources? Exchange goods, services, and/or problems?
-Create a system or ecology that deposits its outcome in Detroit as well as in your "hometown".
-Can you use Detroit's attempts at "making things better" to approach a problem in your "hometown".

Remember, you are the creator here. You are the one in charge of the form, which means that your conceptual approach can put Detroit and "home" on equal footing. You have seen some of the fantastic things about Detroit. You have also seen where Detroit suffers. Can you level the scale and examine your "home" using the same set of criteria that you used to study Detroit (ie what's fantastic and what suffers)? Once Detroit and "home" are on the same level, how are they capable of becoming changed or enriched by their interaction with each another?

Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or confusion.

Dates to discuss proposals. Please sign up to present your proposal on one of the following dates:

April 5


April 12

Best of luck and dream BIG!


I would like to read Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics. Thank You.

Youthville in Detroit

Some information relating to Erica's presentation. Here are a couple of photos of Youthville in Detroit. The wed address is and they pretty much do everything art related that the Detroit public schools do not. It is fantastic how much they do at this one place and they are open year round Monday through Saturday.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Right Now, in Detroit.

If you could start a business right now in Detroit, what would it be? Why?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Past Open Engagement Conference Catalog

Attached is a link to the post-conference catalog of the Open Engagement Conference from 2007. The catalog is 110 pages, but includes many interesting photos, handwritten notes, and writings about art and social engagement. The first essay on page 1, "Right On Canada: Some Thoughts in Regard to the Open Engagement Experience", by Harrell Fletcher, has some very interesting observations on "art" and "social practice". Here are two short quotes from the essay:

"Social Practice in regards to art can be looked at as anything that isnʼt studio practice. By studio practice I mean the dominate way of making art—spending time in a studio working out personal interests into the form of paintings, or objects, or photos, or videos, or some other pretty easily commodifiable form. The often unspoken intention for this studio work is that it will go off to a desirable commercial gallery, be reproduced in art magazines, and eventually wind up in museum collections, while making the artist into a celebrity of sorts, and paying all of the bills. That is the carrot on the stick that keeps this dominate approach alive and kicking, even though very few of these studio practice artists ever get their work shown at all, and most just give up and find some other way to pay off their student loans."

"I donʼt think that artists have any greater social responsibility than anyone else, even so called Social Practice artists. Everyone regardless of their career has the ability to try to help out in life, or to be selfish, or apathetic, or any combination of those things. Iʼve found that my life is more interesting the more I try to engage with the world and learn from other people and experiences. The more experiences I have the greater empathy I have and the more likely Iʼm going to care about things that are not directly related to my own life (partly because through the connections I make more people do become directly related to my life.)"

To access the catalog, go to the following link and click on the "Open Engagement: Art After Aesthetic Distance Post-Conference Catalogue" link under 2007.

And without further ado, here's the link:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Attending "Vanished" at Matrix Theater

Would anyone be interested to go to see the new young playwright's production of Vanished on Saturday, March 20 at 4pm? There's also a show at 8pm. I was thinking to go to the Detroit Eastern Market to check out the produce and vibes, and then go to the show. Student discounts on tickets are available, so it would cost $10 per ticket. I contacted the ticketing people, and they can reserve seats for a group if there's enough of us. I can also look into checking out the A&D van. There's also a show the following Saturday, March 27, at 4 & 8pm, as well as shows on Fridays and Sundays.

Here's a description of the show from Matrix Theater's blog:

“Vanished” is directed by 19-year-old Laura Perez who also led the collective writing of the production. The writers spent a year gathering stories from residents, immigration officers, school officials and more. The idea for the play is based on the experience of Perez’s close friend whose father, the family’s provider, was deported as an undocumented immigrant, while his mother was left to fend for herself and their three children. Unable to find work, she was forced to move back to Mexico. Unwilling to give up his education as an honor student at Cass Technical High School, Perez’s young friend was forced to support himself while finishing his senior year. Despite his hardships, he graduated with honors and was awarded a scholarship to the College for Creative Studies. He had to turn it down because of his undocumented status. Today he lives alone and struggles to support himself with low-paying jobs, while attending Henry Ford Community College part time.

"Vanished” includes other personal experiences shared by the cast and playwrights: dignity-stripping home invasions; a parent desperately struggling to find someone to care for his children when his wife is suddenly deported; married couples deported without their children ever being notified. Residents live in constant fear of deportation each time they see U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicles on their street.

“This play is the voice of a lot of people in this neighborhood,” said Perez. “You can start your day as a family, and that afternoon your parents are gone and you’re forced to fend for yourself.” Perez began working with Matrix at the age of 10. This deeply felt original work is her professional directing debut, and it draws upon her experience as a child of immigrant parents growing up in Southwest Detroit.

Please let me know if you're interested!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Event: March 23 --- Detroit Declaration coming together!


Dear Detroit Declaration Signer,

Thank you for signing the Detroit Declaration!

In our last email, we asked Detroit Declaration signers to nominate political candidates who should be given the chance to earn the support of this movement.

Now, the drafters are pleased to announce the first public event where you can explore this and other ways to engage with the movement.

On March 23, at 5:30 p.m., we'll celebrate civic engagement by coming together to discuss the Declaration and movement, and to watch and respond to Mayor Bing's first State of the City Address.

We want this movement to be transparent and responsive, and we hope to answer all of your questions about who is behind this and what we want to do.

On the 23rd, we'll give a short presentation that explains the origins of the Declaration, introduces you to the drafters, and updates you on the candidate nominations you submitted. More importantly, we'll explore, with your help, the different avenues we believe can be used to advance the Declaration’s principles -- by getting involved with elections, advocating for solutions, or taking personal actions.

Declare Detroit, along with Model D, invite you to participate in our first major meeting.

Who: YOU
What: Detroit Declaration Public Forum & State of the City Viewing Party
Where: The Majestic Theater, 4120 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
When: Tuesday, March 23 (doors open at 5:30; forum begins at 6:00)
Why: Because the people of this movement need to get to know each other and our city's leaders.

This event is presented by Model D Media. Free and open to the public. Please register in advance here:

Join us to plan how you can use the Declaration to move Detroit forward!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Michael's thread

Here's a link to the community arts resource website. Search for "Rubber Meets the Road" to read that article but there's tons of other stuff on there as well.

Also, here's the link to "No Room to Move" (written by Josephine Berry Slater & Anthony Iles):

But here's my synopsis:

How do public art and architecture affect city regeneration, critically studied, not with blind faith that ‘creativity heals cities’? (mostly focusing on London)

2 models: Gentrification & Regeneration

Artists are often on the forefront of gentrification: increased property taxes, increased revenue to local gov. and displacement of local residents. (Artist as Entrepreneur (think Damian Hurst) to build an art market.)

Regeneration is a more recent goal: using quasi-state agencies, tax breaks, re-zoning, public/private partnerships, encouraging cultural economies. (Relies more on state intervention). (Festivals, etc. to draw tourism, improve image of the city)

Individual artists are often critical, but not often resistant. “the more art looks like art, the less effect it seems to have” – Clare Cumberlidge (public art curator)

Artists need to be able to disassemble their skills, and present them in a vernacular context. There is increasing interest in “aesthetics of bureaucracy”, developing frameworks rather than products. (what I think the MBA/MFA could do really well). Funding tends to go towards products, rather than systems (non-sustainable?). Art as a cultural production.

What if artists were to work with communities of businesses/developers (work from the inside)? * Why does this seem like such a crazy concept? Or does it happen more than I realize?

“As ever, the role of art is to cover over the brutalities of society, to remind us of our civility, to insist on our connection to the human community, to instill good liberal democratic values into us.” Free market capitalism will always dismantle this commonality.

2 problems common to public art:

Equivalence: by illustrating a positive society, the society will get better. (basically the problem of all public art, from monuments to relational artists.)

Openness: making everyone equal- meaning everyone is ‘represented’ but no one’s voice is heard. (Like a benneton ad.)

The bigger problem is how both of these are used in new capitalist economies (knowledge and service based). There is an increased awareness of product design. Now we are sold lifestyles and places as products. Businesses are becoming more savvy and quicker to absorb artistic styles to use for their own profit. Can artists even compete?

High Tech Soul

An excellent documentary on Detroit Techno, the originators, and a bit about those carrying on the music now. I am going to show some clips in seminar, but definitely check it out to learn a bit more about the music and the people.

Scratch is not related to Techno, but more to hip-hop and turntablism. Another interesting documentary related to the use of turntables, breaks, and scratching.

Great opportunity, short deadline!! (for you or your students)

I just came across this an article in Time about Motivate Michigan and couldn't remember if you'd sent a blast out about it yet. THIS IS DUE IN 4 DAYS. Here is an explanation spliced together from the article and the MM website:

The Michigan economy needs tangible improvement. Motivate Michigan is a competition among Michigan-based college students to discover the next great creative idea for the state's economic growth. Incoming freshmen and students enrolled in Michigan’s colleges and universities will compete for scholarships and internships provided by sponsoring companies and organizations. Teams and individual students will submit ideas online to improve the Michigan economy. A committee will pick out the top ideas based on their potential impact, originality, creativity and feasibility. Then, the public will have a chance to vote for the top five. A panel of judges will pick the final winner. Submissions must be in by March 12; voting starts April 12.

The winning idea will be developed into a project plan and presented to the logical “Project Owner” for funding and support.

Here's the news article:

Here's the competition website:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs is a Chinese-American activist, writer and speaker whose more than sixty years of political involvement encompass the major U.S. social movements of this century: Labor, Civil rights, Black Power, Asian American, Women's and Environmental Justice. She often speaks of Detroit, where she has resided since 1953. Her husband, James Boggs, was an African-American labor activist, writer and strategist. Together they founded Detroit Summer, a multicultural, intergenerational youth program to rebuild, redefine and respirit Detroit from the ground up.

"This new kind of city can't be built overnight. To create it is going to take time and struggle, including political struggles over opposing policies and directions. It can't be built from the top down by politicians reacting to crises or by developers seizing opportunities to make megaprofits. It must emerge organically from the initiative, imagination, commitment, passions and cooperation of a lot of different people with diverse skills and gifts, putting their hearts, heads and hands together to make a difference. I can't predict the process by which this new kind of city will become strong and stable enough to be a recognizable social formation, but I suspect that it will be something like the one by which over the last four hundred years capitalism slowly but steadily began to take root in Europe and from there spread to the rest of the world because it met deep-seated human or spiritual needs for the individuality and freedoms that had been repressed by feudalism. Analogously, as we enter the third millennium, capitalism's destruction of community and of the biosphere, its denial of social justice and its consumerist monoculture are creating spiritual and material needs for a new culture based on new human values. The movement to create this new culture is emerging organically in Detroit because its physical devastation not only challenges us to begin thinking differently about who we are and how we want to live but also frees up space for new beginnings."
-excerpt from her keynote address: One Thing Leads to Another: Cooperative Developments in Urban Communities, at the Michigan Alliance of Cooperatives in East Lansing, Michigan, October 20, 2000.

Read more about Grace Lee Boggs here:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I really want to go to this lecture. Anyone else interested??

"Activism and the Creative Class: The Art of Building Inclusive Communities"
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
@ MOCAD 4454 Woodward Ave
6:30 Strolling Reception
7:30 Lecture

This ACLU of Michigan spring Legacy Lecture will focus on building inclusive communities--communities that will enliven the economy, enhance understanding and cooperationa dn provide new opportunities for social and political engagement. Memebers of the "creative class" have become a vital part of the effort, moving from artist to activist as they help their communities move forward.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black ("Milk") will share his personal experiences as an artist who has become a strong advocate for LGBT rights on the naitonal scene and here in Michigan. Detroit artist/advocates will share their local perspectives and the ACLU-MI will highlight key freedom of expression cases and ongoing work in defense of civil liberties.
Tickets: Students $15/ ACLU members $30/ Non-members $40
available online at or by calling (313) 578-6827

Monday, February 22, 2010

On the food note...Supinos Pizza

Supinos has some of the best pizza around. Especially this little gem entitled the Bismarck. It is small place and it is great.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

detroit guide

Here's a Detroit city guide written by the Sweet Juniper bloggers (which is in itself a great link). Lots of places to see/eat/shop by neighborhood.

Detroit Blog

Here's the link to a great blog with many glimpses into the lives of different people living in Detroit: There are some very interesting personal stories in here- reflecting both the struggles and quirks of living in Detroit.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Some Detroit performances of the musical variety

This is some information compiled by wife to relay to the group for those that are interested in some of the music happening in Detroit. - BMG and Secrets, - Patrick Russell is
who I would go to see!! - benefit for Haiti,
Terrence Parker is pretty special - uses a telephone instead of
headphones and is a turntablist. Kevin Saunderson and Al Ester -
historically important djs in detroit - Secrets - great music - excellent
musicians, should be a great party. - another great
party, esp. Luke Hess and Kevin Reynolds - probably playing early in
the night. - K Hand and
Punisher are ladies, and great djs. K Hand is first Detroit woman to
start making techno in early 1980s - Ryan Elliot is on
Ghostly International, Ann Arbor based record company

Most of these events get promoted on Facebook as well, just search the
djs if you're interested.

Also, Todd Osborn every Sunday night 10-2 at the Elbow Room in Ypsi.
Always excellent music, pool, and pac-man. :) - always good for great music
information, record label local to detroit

Also, WCBN on Thursday nights from 10pm-1am, Carlos Souffront, local
dj, plays fantastic music. You can listen to it streaming live on the
WCBN website. He's a favorite of a lot of talented detroit djs, he's
often called the dj's dj. He's awesome!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Detroit Theater

Hi everyone,

Thanks to Charlie's suggestion at our last meeting, I've come across the Matrix Theatre Company, which is located in Southwest Detroit. A glimpse of their Mission Statement:
Matrix Theatre Company uses the transformative power of theatre to change lives, build community, and foster social justice. It creates opportunities for children, youth, adults and elders, especially those in isolated or challenged communities, to become creators, producers, and audience of original theatre.

Matrix Theatre Company will be premiering their newest production on March 12, created by Matrix's Young Playwrights: "Vanished". I would like to go to this. Here's the description of the show, about immigration to the U.S., and in particular in Detroit:

Matrix Theatre Company premieres its newest original production, “Vanished” on March 12, 2010. “Vanished” is a creation of Matrix’s Young Playwrights, who will perform the play in partnership with adult mentors trained in the Matrix way. “Vanished” is the story of a family literally torn apart by immigration laws and enforcement policies.

Set in present-day Southwest Detroit, “Vanished” shows one family’s struggle to live the American Dream, a struggle that is defined differently for parents born abroad and their kids born in the U.S. It deals with the realities of life for immigrant families without preaching or choosing sides.

“Vanished” was created in keeping with Matrix’s mission, to use the transformative power of theatre to change lives, build community and foster social justice. The Young Playwrights who created “Vanished” researched the history of U.S. immigration laws, learned about the recent changes made to enforcement policies, and explored the myths and prejudices at work in the formation of public opinion about immigrants. The result of their efforts is a new work that is designed to open discussion, so that audiences can share their ideas and experiences about an issue that impacts the lives of tens of thousands of Detroiters.

Check out Matrix Theatre Company's blogsite:, along with their website:

There's also an interesting article about several theater groups in Detroit who are alive and thriving, one of them being Matrix Theatre Company. You can read the article here:

I'll also plan on discussing this more on Monday!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thoughts about Murder City

Glad Brad stopped us for a few minute talk after Murder City. I suppose my question about the film pertains to audience. Who was this film made for? Was it made to instill pride in the gangstas being represented? It definitely seemed like the filmmaker (Al Profit) had inside relationships with most of his subjects. Maybe he wanted to make a film that represented his subjects the ways in which they chose to be represented. I did not get the impression that he was adding a veneer of glorification. It seemed to me that his subjects, rather, created personae that were based on the glorified model of the gangsta or hood.

Here is Profit's Statement from

“Murder City” is an important film for one reason: it gives a voice to people that are rarely heard in the American media and uses the history of crime in Detroit as a backdrop for the real stories of real Detroiters, not the neatly packaged tales told to us by police, reporters, and politicians. The amazing way that the interview subjects opened their personal lives up to the world gives a truly unique look into the real way that the social disorder and economic decay in Detroit leads normal people into extraordinary events like robbing people for their coats with a 12 gauge shotgun, smoking crack cocaine with their brothers and sisters around the family dinner table, and dispensing complimentary plates of soul-food alongside bags of heroin.

Profit does not discuss the need to develop a gangsta persona or "shield" which might be wise (he's not a sociologist). On the other hand, I do question a possible voyeuristic thrill in which words like "extraordinary" sum up the conditions that have cost many human lives and caused communities to crumble.

Belle Isle

"The decadence of Belle Isle contribut­ed to our gloomy reappraisal. We remembered the delicate fig-​shaped island, stranded between the American Empire and peaceful Canada, as it had been years ago, with its welcoming red­-white-​and-​blue flag-​shaped flower bed, splashing fountains, European casino, and horse paths leading through woods where Indians had bent trees into giant bows. Now grass grew in patches down to the littered beach where children fished with pop tops tied to string. Paint flaked from once-​bright gazebos. Drinking fountains rose from mud puddles laid with broken brick stepping stones. Along the road the granite face of the Civil War Hero had been spray-​painted black."

-from The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

This past August, Riva and I took a day trip to Detroit. We began with a stop at the Heidelberg Project, which Riva was seeing for the first time, and lingered about while we explored the bizarre, utopian vista.

Next, we drove out to Belle Isle, which had an even more idyllic feel about it. Although many of the islands attractions seemed a bit run down and neglected, like the Belle Isle Aquarium (America's Oldest) which has been closed since 2005 for lack of funds, there was a feeling of excitement in the air. It seemed that everyone in Detroit had the same idea that hot August afternoon - to head out to Belle Isle for a barbecue with their closest family and friends. As we drove around the island, there was a new party around every corner, each one complete with its own PA and moonbounce. I think we were the only white people on the entire island.

Belle Isle was a kind of in-between world that day. Not America and not Canada, as Eugenides describes, although you could see one with each eye. It was a safe haven from the problems of a failing economy and a neglected city; a place where celebration was the only rule.

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice

Hey all-

DWEJ (Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice) is the organization I've been talking about- they are great. Here is a short video put out by them:

They also have a great website:, and from there you can find their various programs and information. There's lots to look at, but the most exciting thing I've come across is their community outreach programs (interactive activities in Detroit and information available on the web). Check it out- they've got a lot going on.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

See Detroit through a rose-colored video...

Check out this promotional video made in 1965 when Detroit was trying to get the 1968 Olympics. Narrated by then mayor Jerome Cavanagh.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Artist Village Detroit images

Artist Village Detroit

I've come across a community called 'Artist Village Detroit', which was founded by artist Chazz Miller. In an interview about Artist Village Detroit, Chazz Miller says the following: "Artist Village Detroit was born out of necessity.. If the community is dysfunctional then you can't not be surprised that the children are dysfunctional. My idea of community is a community of sacrifice, individuals who are willing to sacrifice their personal issues for the betterment of the whole. Ultimately, understanding that will more than likely if not solve their personal issues, give them a support system to help them deal with their personal issues." Artist Village Detroit offers summer art classes for children and a weekly open salon called 'Creative Juices' for music, hip-hop, performance and spoken word, among other community projects and programs. Chazz Miller also has murals located throughout Detroit.

You can watch the video 'Overview of Artist Village' here:
Also check out their website, Public Art Workz:
Artist Village is also on Myspace:

What intrigues me about Artist Village is that it offers an outlet for youth and the community to share and express themselves. It also creates a place for people to learn and grow together, to clean up their environment and make it beautiful. The abandoned house projects are interesting too, but what I like about the idea of the Artist Village is that that it depends less on what is empty and vacant, and more on the people who are still there.


Cal Stephanides begins his story before his birth in a small Greek village when his grandparents (Lefty and Desdemona) fail to resist the incestuous desires and the story of Ottomans conquest of Europe during 1992. One thing to note is the English admiral looking from a distance at helpless refugees in the water trying to swim away from danger. His orders were not to help refugees, as it wasn’t in an interest to England to upset the Ottomans. It reminded me of war in Bosnia, 1992-1995. English lords looking at us as violent people observing from a distance while innocent people were being killed. When Bosnia asked for help they imposed embargo on Bosnia with an excuse that more weapons in Bosnia will only mean more killing. Funny thing is, one side had all the weapons needed for killing.

I found this particularly interesting since the Balkan peninsula was always and still is a cross between East and the West and history is constantly repeating itself, new helpless people, new waves of immigrants to Unites States, new politics, new regimes, new workforce etc.

Their immigration to the United States and Lefty’s work in Ford Motor Plant -Rouge greatly explains a history, politics and psychology during that period of time.
One paragraph of this book explains hard labor, speed, efficiency needed to work on a T model car. An assembly line and Ford’s discussion to only make one model car. Labor was defined as a factor of time rather then skill of thought and maximized by demanding production schedules dictated by floor managers. Charlie Chaplin in the 1936 film Modern Times satirized Fordism.

Note: Even nowadays, time is more important in factories then skill and thought.
Perhaps that’s why we have economic downfall, especially in the car industry in the United States. While Germans, Japanese, Koreans, Italians, English, shifted their focus on skill and thought Americans continued with Fordism philosophy. That is why American car industry is way behind these nations. Even Fiat is buying a Chrysler.

I will comment more as I continue through chapters on a superficial story of a hermaphrodite.

Detroit Ice House

Ice House in Detroit

Many questions are asked about the Ice House project, here is couple of them:

“My questions are: Do the artists own the house and did they have permission from the city of Detroit to tap into the hydrant? The answers to those questions will determine whether or not this is public art or opportunism and vandalism. There are people in Detroit who would like to restore homes so that they can be occupied. In the spring, this house will be full of mold. What will the artists do then? Are they honestly trying to help our community or to just make a name for themselves?”

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I'm interested in what makes Detroit terrible, so most of my posts will be of this nature:

CNN has a special feature on their website called Assignment Detroit. It focuses mainly on economic hardship through special interest stories and whatnot, and can be found at: Here's one such article:

Detroit: Too broke to bury their dead

Money to bury Detroit's poor has dried up, forcing struggling families to abandon their loved ones in the morgue freezer.

By Poppy Harlow, anchor

DETROIT ( -- At 1300 E. Warren St., you can smell the plight of Detroit.

Inside the Wayne County morgue in midtown Detroit, 67 bodies are piled up, unclaimed, in the freezing temperatures. Neither the families nor the county can afford to bury the corpses. So they stack up inside the freezer.

Albert Samuels, chief investigator for the morgue, said he has never seen anything like it during his 13 years on the job. "Some people don't come forward even though they know the people are here," said the former Detroit cop. "They don't have the money."

Lifelong Detroit residents Darrell and Cheryl Vickers understand this firsthand. On a chilly September morning they had to visit the freezer to identify the body of Darrell's aunt, Nancy Graham -- and say their goodbyes.

The couple, already financially strained, don't have the $695 needed to cremate her. Other family members, mostly in Florida, don't have the means to contribute, either. In fact, when Darrell's grandmother passed recently, his father paid for the cremation on a credit card -- at 21% interest.

So the Vickers had to leave their aunt behind. Body number 67.

"It's devastating to a family not to be able to take care of their own," said Darrell. "But there's really no way to come up with that kind of cash in today's society. There's just no way."

The number of unclaimed corpses at the Wayne County morgue is at a record high, having tripled since 2000. The reason for the pile-up is twofold: One, unemployment in the area is approaching 28%, and many people, like the Vickers, can't afford last rites; two, the county's $21,000 annual budget to bury unclaimed bodies ran out in June.

"One way we look back at a culture is how they dispose of their dead," said the county's chief medical examiner, Carl Schmidt, who has been in his position for 15 years. "We see people here that society was not taking care of before they died -- and society is having difficulty taking care of them after they are dead."

Detroit is not alone. The Los Angeles coroner's office said it, too, has seen an increase in the number of bodies abandoned. That's not surprising at a time when unemployment tops 10% in many cities and the median cost of a funeral in America hovers around $7,000. Cremation can cost $2,000.

Little help available

This is an issue of concern, said the Detroit mayor's office, but the city can't afford to offer any assistance. "The failure, through inability or choice, to bury the deceased is a reflection of the economic conditions that have arrested this region, where people are now forced to make emotionally compromised choices," said a spokesman in a prepared statement.

The state, however, does have some funds available to assist with burial costs. For fiscal year 2009, Michigan allocated $4.9 million for assistance, and of that, approximately $135,500 remains. Those in need of assistance can find grant applications at Michigan Department of Human Services offices, most funeral homes, and at

The Vickers did not know about the funds until CNNMoney notified them. But, fortunately, they were eventually able to scrape together the $695 and will be able to cremate their aunt with help from Social Security, social services and their aunt's church.

The way Darrell sees it, the stimulus package should have helped people in situations like this, rather than to "spark the economy and sell cars. We can't take care of our own when it comes to laying them to rest and letting them rest in peace."

'Reflection of the economy'

Believe it or not, the Vickers are among the fortunate.

Dozens of other bodies remain, some never identified. And they can't be disposed of until their families come forward or the county's burial fund is replenished when the 2010 budget is approved. There were 66 bodies before Aunt Nancy's, and they'll be interred on a first-arrived-first-buried basis.

"There are many people with sad lives," said Schmidt. "But it is even sadder when even after you are dead, there is no one to pick you up."

And in a town with so much need, Schmidt noted one more cause for concern: The increase in unclaimed bodies is not due to an increase in murders -- though the rate remains high -- but due to natural causes. Schmidt speculated that many of the deceased didn't have health insurance or could no longer afford medication for the chronic medical conditions.

"If anything is a reflection of the economy, that is a reflection of the economy," he said.

But this messy reality is shielded behind the Wayne County morgue's perfectly trimmed hedges and pristine brick walls.

"I feel sadness because I can recall when it [Detroit] was really booming," said investigator Samuels. "I don't think a lot of people are really aware that these types of things are happening in such a wide area." To top of page

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Detroit Allied Media Conference

Here's an event in June that might be interesting if anyone's around:

More about Detroit Ice House

More information on this web page about Detroit Ice House. It's also interesting to see different comments on the video and 360 view.

Monday, January 25, 2010

readings on public art

I just read this article on the role artists play in urban regeneration. No room to move is a pretty apt title, as it's basically a long list of the pitfalls that public and community engaged art projects face, and it doesn't leave you with much hope other than "it's difficult to know what to do in our current climate". Although it's disheartening, it's also good to be aware of these issues so that at the very least we aren't unknowingly aiding the marginalization of a group of people (maybe even ourselves). If anyone else reads this I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Also, Miwon Kwon's "One Place After Another" is another very critical view of site-specific art that really challenged my thinking about public art. Grant Kester's "Conversation Pieces" is a more positive take on it (and they riff on each other, which is kind of fun). They're all good, if and when you have the time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Screening at MOCAD

This looks awesome! Maybe we could get a group visit together?

I guess this is as good a time as any to let you all know that I don't have a car and I often have to bum rides places, especially places like Detroit. If anyone is ever making the trip and would like some company, please let me know. I'm happy to pitch in for gas and I'm a relatively fun person to be around. We could visit places together, or each do our own thing and meet up later. I'm also thinking about getting a zipcar account for emergencies, so I can return the favor if that works out. Sincerely, Michael

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 7PM
MOCAD is proud to present
Films from Prelinger Archives: Lost Landscapes of Detroit
Admission: Free

All photos courtesy of Richard Prelinger, Prelinger Archives.

LOST LANDSCAPES OF DETROIT;an eclectic montage of rediscovered and rarely-seen archival film clips exhibiting life; cityscapes, labor and leisure from ‘vanishing Detroit’, as captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen and industrial filmmakers from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. Lost Landscapes aims to offer Detroiters imagery of Detroit's past, free from any sense of nostalgia, in an attempt to provide subject for contemplation as the people of the city build towards a new future.

Unlike most film screenings, Lost Landscapes relies on audience participation for the soundtrack – interaction with the films is encouraged, as questions are shouted out, observations are shared and mysterious locations are identified.

“How we remember and record the past reveals much about how we address the future.” Points out archivist Rick Prelinger, who will be on hand to preface the screening with a brief talk on the value of ephemeral films, on the changing nature of historical memory, and what consequences will arise from the emerging massive matrix of personal records.

Prelinger began collecting ephemeral films -- advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur works -- in 1983. In 2002, his collection of over 200,000 items was acquired by the Library of Congress; many key films are available online at the Internet Archive. In 2004 Rick and spouse Megan opened the Prelinger Library in downtown San Francisco, which includes over 60,000 pieces of print ephemera, books, periodicals, maps and zines and is open to the public.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Temporary Art Communities in Detroit

Something I've been thinking about is the idea of locational identity and the formation of temporal artist communities. Detroit has a lot of these...

One such instance is 'Theater Bizzare'. This 'Theater' is actually a one night artistic "happening". It happens every year same place and around the same time in October.

Artists invented the community and create the happening, then they leave it.
Some of the set stays intact, some comes down.
They return again the next year to re-create the event.
Some artists stay on site and continue with their creative work.
I've met painters and sculptors who live in the houses that face what used to be the Detroit fairgrounds.

At the moment some of these thoughts are incomplete, but its something I'm enjoying mulling over.

What are created artist communities?
How does their locational identity form (or inform) the work they do?

More on Theater Bizarre (here)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Detroit resources/things of interest


The Boggs Center

The Boggs Center Blog

The Michigan Citizen -
Detroit based Sunday paper - Grace Lee Boggs writes for them often.
"The Michigan Citizen targets the state's African American and progressive minded community. From block club presidents to mayors, school board trustees to state legislators, activists and self-help advocates, The Michigan Citizen reaches those shaping the future of our communities."

TIME in Detroit


Ice House Detroit -
I'm curious to hear others thoughts about this project.
"Ice House Detroit is an architectural installation and social change project happening in Detroit this winter. One of 20,000 abandoned houses will be frozen in solid ice to reference contemporary urban conditions in the city and beyond. This project will happen in collaboration with several Detroit based environmental organizations."

Broken City Lab
Some friends from across the river...
"Broken City Lab an artist-led interdisciplinary creative research group that tactically disrupts and engages the city, its communities, and its infrastructures to reimagine the potential for action in the collapsing post-industrial city of Windsor, Ontario.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Picketers at Bushnell Congregation

Here's a picture I found through the Bentley Historical Museum's image base. This picture was taken in 1958 of picketers at Bushnell Congregational Church in Detroit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Putting the Neighbor Back in the Hood!

MLK Celebration event this weekend. let me know if you'd like to join: