Olayami Dabls, Nkisi Building, 2009–10, installation view from the series Iron Teaching Rocks How to Rust. Courtesy the artist
Material Detroit is a free performance and public art series that complements the exhibition and publication, Landlord Colors: On Art, Economy, and Materiality. Sited in Detroit and created in partnership with ARTS.BLACK and Sidewalk Detroit, it is the activation of ideas that leap off the pedestal or page and become voices, movements, and experiences.
A fleet of abandoned boats suspended in a warehouse along the Detroit Riverfront; an apartment in the Eastern Market neighborhood reconceived as a sensory-rich environment of black ceramics, charred wood, and molten glass; a hoodie in the North End with twenty-five-foot-long arms attached to flagpoles raised and lowered at dawn and dusk each day; an epic performance of Detroit-area choirs taking form as an expanded infinity sign. This summer, these and many other free public installations and performances will punctuate Material Detroit, taking the art of Landlord Colors beyond the museum and into the city.
Material Detroit projects that will launch on Saturday, June 22, 2019:
3pm: Susana Pilar, a renowned Havana-based Afro-Cuban artist, will present a performance on June 22 that draws upon a true story from the Detroit 1967 Rebellion. In collaboration with local musicians, Pilar will create a performance that honors the music of The Dramatics, whose founding member, Cleveland Larry Reed, survived the police siege on The Algiers Motel in 1967. Location: 8301 Woodward, Detroit. (Rain date, June 23 at the same time and location.)
1-6pm: Scott Hocking will present a monumental installation in a 25,000 square-foot former industrial building, which will remain on view throughout the summer near the Detroit riverfront. Bone Black utilizes a collection of the metaphorical ‘bones’ of Detroit’s once prosperous economy: the many boats abandoned throughout the city. Theatrically presented as a suspended fleet, Hocking applies “Bone Black” paint to the boats, an industrial pigment from crushed animal bones that has been produced in Detroit since the 19th century. Landlord Colors will also feature a research-based installation on Bone Black at the museum. Location: 900 Guoin St., Detroit (entrance on Guoin between Chene and Joseph Campau).
Dawn and Dusk: Billy Mark will create a participatory site-specific installation in his neighborhood of Detroit’s North End, featuring a handmade hoodie with 25-foot arms affixed to three flagpoles. Each morning from June 22–July 28, Mark will raise the arms of the sweatshirts at dawn and lower them at dusk. Location: 858 Blaine St., Detroit.
Noon-4pm: Anders Ruhwald will launch an ongoing project as part of Material Detroit. Unit 1: 3583 Dubois will occupy an entire apartment in Detroit’s Eastern Market neighborhood. The artist investigates themes of transformation and memory through this installation of black ceramic, charred wood, molten glass, and perceptual environments. Location: Unit 1, 3583 Dubois St., Detroit.
3-6pm: Dabls’ MBAD African Bead Museum, a city-block-sized installation by Olayami Dabls that has been a cultural nexus in Detroit since the late 1990s, will be activated by an exhibition of work by Detroit artist Elizabeth Youngblood. Set within the installation’s gallery space, the exhibition will serve as a momentary companion to this longstanding creative pillar. Dabls’ sculptural work will also be featured in the exhibition Landlord Colors. Location: 6559 Grand River Ave., Detroit.
Material Detroit projects that will take place throughout the summer and leading into the fall:
Sterling Toles will present a performance of Resurget Cinerbus, an immersive sound work that intertwines news coverage from the 1967 Detroit Rebellion with distinct instrumental music and the artist’s narration of his father’s personal history. Sited in Gordon Park in August 2019, the historic location where the 1967 uprising began, the project will be accompanied by a series of discussions led by curator Taylor Renee Aldridge. Date: TBD. Location: Gordon Park (Rosa Parks Blvd at Clairmount).
The Fringe Society (Ash Arder and Levon Kafafian) will debut Xylem X, a new, site-specific outdoor installation, at Detroit’s annual Sidewalk Festival (August 1–3, 2019). Utilizing a colorful alley as its platform, Xylem X is an interactive fiber installation that presents a portal into the topographic layers of life on a faraway, futuristic planet. Dates: August 1–3. Location: Art Alley, The Artist Village, 17336 Lahser Road, Detroit.
Big Red Wall Dance Company will present an original, place-based performance work within Detroit’s 250-acre Eliza Howell Park in September 2019. The project explores the Black female body’s relationship to Detroit’s green-spaces, as well as issues of security and safety in public space. The work will be accompanied by live music, and will feature selections from guest choreographers based in Detroit. Location: Eliza Howell Park, 23751 Fenkell Ave., Detroit. Date: TBD.
Jennifer Harge’s Fly|Drown will be on view at the Detroit Artist Market from September 13–October 19. The installation recreates African-American interior domestic space through vernacular objects, and will be accompanied by a series of performances and salon style talks that will serve as platforms for Black womxn to explore their sovereignty within this context. Dates: September 13 – October 19. Location: Detroit Artists Market, 4719 Woodward Ave., Detroit. For more information, click here.
Michelangelo Pistoletto will present a major performance in September 2019. The legendary Italian artist explores the cyclical nature of life through an ongoing manifesto-driven series titled Il Terzo Paradiso (The Third Paradise), in which The Third Paradise symbol takes on various performance and installation-based forms. In the specific context of Detroit, The Third Paradise—which consists of the reconfiguration of the mathematical infinity sign into three connected circles—will be created through an epic performance of Detroit choir members, orchestrated in the shape of the symbol. A site-specific version of Pistoletto’s 1976 sculptural installation Metamorfosi will also be on view as part of Landlord Colors. Exact date and location TBD.
Download the full guide of Material Detroit events
The project is generously supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and donors to the Detroit Initiatives Fund for Cranbrook.
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