Photos portraying Detroit in a positive light are sometimes hard to come by.
When I look at photos of Detroit there are usually only a few categories that normally come up in a Google search: photos of old and abandoned buildings that has quickly become known as “Ruin porn”, and iconic photos of Detroit such as the Renaissance Center, Comerica Park or the Spirit of Detroit. A lot of these photos come from photographers that aren’t from Detroit and can’t really grasp what is significant other than the stereotypical image of decline or renewal.
But the Detroit Institute of Arts is trying to change that with their “Detroit Revealed: Photographs (2000 – 2010)” exhibition. The exhibition contains photos from artists from Detroit, native born, and those from artists that are only passing through. The mix of people that know firsthand of the city’s past and those that are experiencing the city for the first time brings a collection of images that tell a sometimes contradicting story.
The images were taken over the last decade and can at times show the best of Detroit; a resilience to destruction and elimination and a willingness to fight back and to stick around. And they can show the worst of Detroit; white flight from the city, leaving behind buildings and neighborhoods and entire swathes of land slated for development but turned over to the relentlessness of nature.
This installation and photograph by Scott Hocking, a Detroit native, was taken inside of Fisher Body Plant #21. Inside he found a structure exposed to the elements and what was beginning to look like something reclaimed by nature. Inspired by Mayan architecture, Hocking created a ziggurat to connect modern day Detroit to ancient Central America monumental ruins.
Hocking captures the relentless spirit of nature and re-purposes the inside of this plant, abandoned for more than 30 years, into something more useful.
This image, taken by Corine Vermeulen, reveals a different side of Detroit. Taken near the river, just outside of Hart Plaza during the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, the image juxtaposes the vibrancy of the attendees of the festival against the somber nature of the International Underground Railroad Memorial, pointing the way to Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
The Detroit Institute of Art is also giving everyone a chance to Reveal Your Detroit through their Flickr group. Join the group to share your relationship to Detroit through your own photos. The Detroit Revealed exhibit will be open through Sunday, April 29th. And through the month of March, if you go over to the DIA’s Facebook Page and give them a like, you can get free admission for four.