Billboards Detroit

Grace Herbert

 
Image caption.


During my recent residency at Popps Packing, I began to identify a vision of entropy within sites and objects on the outer edges, the things that are everywhere but not necessarily observed. Piles of rubble and stone that could be either the end or the beginning of a building, neatly levelled patches of dirt where a house once stood, driveways that lead to nothing, the noise of waste recycling factories grinding concrete from demolished structures to gravel. Things get demolished to build new things. This cycle never stops; in fact, I think it might be getting faster. A process of land and matter and materials disappearing over time that Robert Smithson called “ruins in reverse”.

These entropic scenes can be found in a bleak vastness on the industrial zone borders of Hamtramck and Detroit. Once communities, the city has taken and demolished them in the name of public interest and given them to private companies.  This process of eminent domain is perhaps not so distant from the current issues with foreclosure and development in Detroit. It reminds me that nobody really owns anything.

I began a sort of field-work process in the area, riding daily across the southern border of Hamtramck and Detroit and, ritualistically, in a circle around the General Motors assembly plant. I collected images, which I consider more as found objects than photography. They are subtle reminders of past structures, past communities and the continual and unforgiving economic pressures that influence our built environments. The images have been installed on billboards on the edges of the Hamtramck - Detroit border. They are advertising the obsolete. According to spectators during their installation, they are “better than what was there”; i.e., there was nothing there before the installation.

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a journal of art + culture(s)  
link - issue 21: October 2015