Friday, October 3, 2008

for steve

I'm playing a trick on you. I'm actually on the 20th floor of an apartment building over looking chicago right now.
so this is kind of about something this summer. a real treat.. this photo has never seen the light of day, but since i have left you, i wanted to do something special... here it is.
Mom, Dad, Grandma please close your eyes. this is not parent proof.

I really love this photo of my friend steve taken at his loft space. He recently disappeared, for a week or so, and while we wondering where he went, my friend in New York, was surprised to see him appear on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. So we found him in LA. Detroit kids on the move. Steve will show up in these flicks again. He is a good part of this community. Thats about it. i just thought it was interesting. okie sports fans. I might wait till monday when i'm back in the D, but i hope you guys smile much, over the weekend.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

love prevails

when i started this, all of 4 days ago i was worried i would not have enough to write about, but wouldn't you know i'm afraid i might have too much. Today was going to be dedicated to a friend who had disappeared, only to be found on the Jimmy Kimmel show last night, but my friends Dan and Marta decided to get married today. They were gracious enough to let me come photograph it.

We met at forans where they were finishing their beers, and filing out the paper work. The wedding party was small just a few good friends. We walked in the rain down through Hart Plaza, where a reverend with the word vengeance tattooed across his tummy performed the ceremony. The whole thing was rather romantic, and simple, although i'm not sure Marta would admit that ever. The two giddy kids then rode off into the sunset and lived happily ever after. Congrats guys!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

the first day of october

October tends to be a particularly... amazing/tramatizing month in my life. Today was freezing cold (57 degrees), i'm not ready for it. So here i go, diving head first into October, and into blogging... I felt today should be a fairly monumental photograph, to go along with the somber mood i felt all day. Something equal to the the gray moody skies, the fall warns us, are coming.


This Building is located on the cities west side. It used to produce rubber, i believe, and i remember coming home to my house in woodbridge, and seeing the flames off in the distance. My friends and I hopped into my car and followed the billiowing cloud on the horizon untill we ended here. The photographs from that night are buried on my hard-drive, and i promise to dig them out. However i watched this business burn to the ground. I returned to shoot this 3 years later.
Only a shell was left.
There were stripped cars and engines inside, it stands next to a still fuctioning auto business (though what kind i cannot say), I climbed up onto the roof, even though i could see the depression around the columns. The cement structure is slowly failing. It is still sourrounded by a large dirt field, and the building, alone with nothing on the horizon reminds me of a third world country. Exactly what a war zone would look like.
My friend is a realtor in the area, Dave Shanaman, (if your looking for commercial property in detroit, get ahold of him). Anways, he told me they were scouting this sight to open another school, but the ground was too contaminated from the fire for children to be playing on it. So I suppose it will still stand. A memory looming over the nieghboorhood.
This was a chilly cold day. But i eneded it warming my heart and tummy at Motor City Brewery.
the sloping in this photograph, is the floor collapsing
abandoned car and engine blocks

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

a manifesto of sorts...

i have written and re-written this so many times... in the past few years. This small text touches on some of my hopes, and ideas i've held on to consistently. I want the images to speak for themselves. but incase that is not enough for you, read this.

For the past 7 years i have been documenting life in detroit.
-I have photographed over 40 abandoned buildngs, comercial, industrial, and residential spaces.
-I have amassed over 10,000 images,
- I have scaled walls, escapped wild dogs, spent nights without sleep
-I have traveled these streets by foot, bike, car whatever it has taken to capture photographss of every human emotion, in a city facing major struggles.
- I have tried to collect a series of images that tell a true story; one full of hope and life in a very misunderstood place.

Eventually I would like to collect these photographs and stories into a book, which will document the years i have spent here.
I am a visual artist and who is trying to use my tools, these photographs, to bring positive change to this city.

Some call Detroit the most modern City in the world. a predicition of the future of all cities; based on the fact that more cities are losing population then gaining(according to the Shrinking Cities Studies initiated by the Federal Culture Foundation, Germany, in cooperation with the Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig, Bauhaus Foundation Dessau and the Journal Archplus). Between 1950 and 2003 Detroit lost half of it's poulation (-50.2%) while the sorrunding areas grew 171.3%. We are losing people at a rate of about 2 people per day. 10 years ago detroits average income was half that of the suburbs and in 2002, 26.1% of detroits inhabitants lived below the poverty level.

Looking over the press releases for the study which included a series of books, essays (which i highly recommend downloading from the website) and a traveling exhibition, It claimed of all cities (in the world) Detroit has the most striking architecture of abandonment... with one third of the city derelict. It says "visitors should Prepare themselves for dystopian scenery".

I see a different city every day I walk out my door. I want to show a different picture of what has been left behind in modern Detroit and the people who are here making a difference.

Things like my nieghboors walking their dogs, and people helping each other at the bike shop don’t make national headlines. But together not only can we make this city the place we want to live, we can show the world that even though some left, what remains is strong, young and putting up a fight.

Many programs/groups are taking advantage of this cities negatives, and turning them into positives. These projects are reusing existing spaces, haboring community, and creating self sufficiency, as well as new forms of labor. They are promoting youth synergies and keeping people active in the city.
Another side to the revitalization of Detroit is the power housed in its vibrant underground culture. This city has a strong tradition of creating unique visuals and sounds that can be seen and heard around the globe, from Motown to electronic music these art froms are bred from Detroits streets and smoking sewers.
-late night parties in unsanctioned venues
-street festivals
-alley cat bike races
-local bars
-and art galleries
are acting as hubs where youth can meet, and network. Some of these events draw hundreads of people, often heavily influenced by art, fashion and music, overall creating life in a place many hve tried to forget. Movements like this have already revitalized cities such as Brooklyn and Venice beach, and it was through documtation that their culture was exposed on a national scale.

A question I am still asking myself is how to harness all of this energy?

... and i don't know the answer...thats for you to decide. you as an active viewer, citizen, human bieng, the world is yours to be made, seen, imagined however you like. the only thing we can do is make change happen, slowly, one day at a time.
writings on the wall

Monday, September 29, 2008

Acetaminophen, diphenhydramine hci and phenylephrine hcl

in life there are the haves and the have nots, those who have allergies.. and those who do not.. i envy the later group, because they don't have to deal with the constant runny and stuffy nose, sinus junk, itchy eyes, that let me tell you, make me a very attractive human bieng, every fall and spring. not to mention for the past 4 years i have lived in houses, aged around 100 years old.. and filled with black mold.. and well, a century of dust.... then there is a known fact that because temperatures are slightly higher in the inner city, and detroit is about 1/3 green space, the deadly pollen season begins earlier and lasts longer. HOORAY!

but really i love this place, and for some reason i named today the first day i would start blogging about living here. everyday.. for as long as i can keep up.. and even though i just ingested Benadryl Allergy & Cold, and am waiting for the sleepy effects to calm my restless legs.. anyways you get the point, i live here. here are some of the interesting things that happen.. every day.

Detroit City of tomorrow

As i shot this photograph on a tuesday night about 1:00 in the morning, a homeless person* across the street started laughing hysterically... it freaked me out a bit and i made a quick escape.. only to run into like 3 other screaming homeless folk*, Desolate at this time of night, earlier in the day, downtown had been corner to corner full of people, there was a tigers game, and Sigor Ros played at the Filmore.
I rode my bike back and forth across the city cutting through traffic, stopping at the bike shop, and the gigantic brownsfield just before belle isle (the largest in the country, the belle tire site), and back up into corktown, woodbridge, then finally downtown, to watch the icelandic group preform.. There was alot of wandering before i stumbled upon this lonely scene... but i felt it's what we all want to envision, Detroit, "City of the Future"

*homeless folk to be politically correct.

"you are about to witness the very exciting story about a city and it's people.
it will be an adventure that will open new sights in familiar sourroundings.
it is a story of a city seeking new horizons in a resolute contest with great challenges.
that city is detroit, home of nearly [one million] people back in 1701 long before this land become a nation, caddiliac planted the colors of france on detroits shore, and thus began a rich and inspiring history which has brought detroit to its finnest hour, the today of which we are apart. yes detroit is enjoying it's finest hour, there is a rennisance, a rebirth in this city, there is a newness in detroit. i am honored to be serving as [photographer] at this most eventful and productive period in detroits history and i am honored to be a participant in the detroit story." **

**i took this quote from a film,
more information about the film;

"This public domain film narrated by then-mayor Jerome P. Cavanaugh was made in 1965 to promote Detroit. The city faced many urban problems and its population was in decline. These difficulties were amplified by the 1967 riots, which are seen by many as one of the most significant events which led the city into a forty year decline. Since the mid 50s, the population has dropped by half and the infrastructure has been destroyed or has decayed due to abuse and neglect"

city of tomorrow.