I do have a few more words about Detroit. The city itself really impressed me. I know, I know, that the influx of 20,000 people who care passionately about whatever it is they do, and care passionately about the lives of other people, is going to change the feel of a place in a way that I enjoy. I was told repeatedly that the city, at least the downtown was different that week – but the thing is, it was Detroit people telling me so. Everyone I met was curious, and friendly, and proud, and mostly a little annoyed that they hadn’t heard about the USSF to take part. We needed more media outreach for all our talk about media.
Have you heard about the Heidelberg Project? It’s a two-block stretch on Heidelberg Street in Detroit, whose vacant lots piled with trash between a few rattling houses were transformed into a socially and environmentally conscious space for public art beginning in 1986. An artist named Tyree Guyton returned to his childhood neighborhood to clean out the debris and build it into symbol, color, sculpture, concept, polka dots : art.
The place was beautiful. Although portions of the project have twice been demolished by the city, it is voluptuous with discarded materials restructured and re-imagined and with its definite aesthetic. I see it as an example of the potential in post-urban spaces for innovation. Maybe places like Detroit have a opportunity to create a kind of community that hasn’t existed before, as an urban culture relaxes into open physical space?
I also see it as a perfect example of how I prefer to engage with art – and how I prefer art to engage with me. I want art to step up to reality, strike up a conversation, establish a relationship and move in to stay. Of course I like it to have an interesting story to share. What I’m realizing right now is that I’m interested in precisely the intersection between media and art; how does art express its story? How can media make use of symbolism and beauty?
Those questions were at the heart of what I found at the US Social Forum, and I’m looking for more. Thoughts comments ideas interesting links?