Jon King's books

Anyone having some hours to spend in this town which are not filled in with appointments is strongly recommended to visit Jon King’s books. A heavenlike place for any booklover, and actually for all who are not – they will walk out being booklovers. On three stores, in two buildings there are books books books books books books and yep some more books. The owners, Jon and his wife Toni, and the personnel seem to be the sole people on earth knowing their way in this labyrinth of piles and shelves filled with books from all times. Little corners reveal treausures never thought of. The corner of ‘Detroit’ saw me digging in deep and coming up with some first hand accounts of the ’67 riots, some guide to nineties multicultural Detroit and Boggs’ 1963 “The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker's Notebook.”
When Toni noticed our excitement for what was all around us she as well got enthusiastic. We were invited to follow her into the second building in which the real treasures are kept. It turned out the second building was more orderly with real categories being sticked to the walls. Now the real treasure digging could start – and Toni next to us [“Yes, i am going to take all your money”] kept on throwing beautiful brochures on urban planning, old citymaps, and historical books at us. And yes, she could have taken all our money, and than some more. Luckily we had a busy afternoon schedule so we had to leave her. Happy and excited with what we found we left and promised ourselves a quiet evening to do some reading. And that evening silence reigned the house.

Mexican mural

Walking down the street picturing a mural which clearly was never finished I met a girl. She was as kind to leave the pavement and take a detour on the street allowing me to have an open panorama. When I thanked her she looked surprised and stopped. Nervously sucking her sigaret she greeted back. On my question if she knew if the mural would ever be finished, she looked even more puzzled. “Will you do so?” Me laughing, “No I don’t think so, I just wonder who will do so?” On her second question if I was an artist I had to reply “No, even though some would label me like that during my time here, but no. Are you?” “Naah, never was, never will.” Than we looked at eachother and just laughed. Both of us willing to see the mural finished, both of us feeling strange we would never do so. Both of us sad thinking we wouldn’t see that happen.

Hidden histories

A few days later, a few days filled with stories, a few days of exploring the D. Not only by driving around, by meeting people, by talking, but by taking leaflets, reading the signs on the streets, and already in this first weeks various layers of histories shape up. Having been impressed by reading Doug Saunders’ book ‘Arrival city’ on the arrival and consecutive ‘landing’ and empowerment of migrants within their own communities I’d like to look at Detroit as an arrival city. Waves of African Americans were coming to town in what was called the Great Migration – the migration of African Americans from the South to the North between 1890 and 1970. They arrived in a town that by then knew great Polish, Ukraianan and Greek communities. Nowadays the town of Hamtramck is referred to as Banglatown, whereas South Western Detroit is widely known as Mexicantown. The latest wave of immigrants are the socalled hipsters, being attracted by the vibrant scene they created for themselves, not necessarily connected with anything already existing in town, and the cheap housing possibilities. What will be a next wave of migration? And will the flagrant segregation that existed, and exists!, once be someting of the past?


What station to get off at?

An event by Expodium and Friso Wiersum, Utrecht The Netherlands, in collaboration with CAID, Detroit, USA.

Friday, 28th of October
CAID, 5141, Rosa Parks BLVD

Doors open for refreshments at 7.30 pm. Conversation starts at 8 pm.



Since 2009 Expodium has been coming to Detroit in order to set up a program based on exchanging experiences and knowledge about urban challenges. The program started in 2010 and recently, the fifth resident – Friso Wiersum - arrived.

Expodium and Friso will introduce the program and touch upon various issues Friso hopes to address to during his dialogue-seeking stay of 9 weeks.



Weekends in the D offer plenty of opportunities to discover other sides of the town. Friday evening we spent playing 8ball in Temple Bar, meeting up with dj Affection. Some collab in future is at hand.

Saturday night Theatre Bizarre organized a tremendous party in one of the town's iconic buildings, the Masonic Temple. Costumes mandatory. Check their site for more info and see their facebook for uploaded pictures of guests. Five floors filled with music and shows and theatre and burlesque stages and… It was a good night out. The only disturbing fact: our dresses were marked with a Spartan. And Spartans are the sport teams of the Michigan State University, the concurrent of Wayne State University. All evening long people called out to us: "Go green!" And how much I would love the world to go green, I did not expect people to keep confirming that on a Halloween party. It had nothing to do with environmental issues, but all with the color of the sports teams. It took some Arab sheik to explain us why we were being so enthusiastically welcomed. Thanks again Mark.

Than sunday, as you can imagine, some tiredness was my share. Luckily Bart and Luc shared that feeling. An English breakfast with KT and some coffees later we took out to Belle Isle. The lounging island in the Detroit river. We watched a game of slowpitch in the sun. Afterwards we met up with Andrew Herscher [more on him later] in a beautiful pop up beergarten; Tashmoo. As it turned out this was their last sunday at their location at Van Dyke Street, and the lightbulbs, the beanbag tossing, the grilled sausages and the hipsters all made it feel very Berlin.

This town has many sides, and wow, I am going to dive in.


Spacious limbo-ism

First impressions
First impressions are always the most funny ones. The ones that give shape to your frame for understanding all things one is gonna encounter. Now my first impressions here were as one could expect: the USA really does look like all the images one knows from TV and movies: huge cars, big people, many ads along the road, and those dinners and delicatessen we all dreamt of. The car we drive in here swallows a 120 litres of gasoline. When the battery run empty some guys, each one of them weighting at least what us three weight together, helped us out at the gas station. And to finish the story at the gasstation: they did serve some awfully good Mexican food. So actually now new impressions there.

But than to something that did strike me. We all know Detroit’s notoriety as the town where things, to say the least, didn’t exactly go as once planned. Economies failed, corporations decided to leave town & fuck over all their employees & their families, and hence the drop in population size from over 2 million to a mere 800.000 at the moment. I suppose everybody reading these lines heard about the word ‘ruin’ porn– the eagerness of seeing and preferably photographing the abandoned and deserted desolate and sometimes halfly burnt houses, so no need to dwell upon that – but what I did not realize is this: when these houses, factories, and other lots were taken down the sites weren’t developed and thus the town has an enormous amount of empty space. And Detroit already looks like a spacious town to me, having grown up in busy neighbourhoods in Europe. Every direction one looks shows open space. So even though Detroit is a big town it has a village feel.

Lethargy of living in limbo
And connected to that feeling is the very citylike idea of a village being more relaxed, more connected, more community like than the towns most people live in today. But than, for some among us who did grew up in villages, those little towns also had the dready long afternoons where nothing was gonna happen and you did know at beforehand. Numerous were the afternoons when homework was done and you didn’t know what else to do. That in some way also is the Detroit experience. It is the quietness of a post conflict zone where new life has yet to gain shape. It is the limbo time in which we don’t now what tomorrow will bring. It is the spacious surroundings that are so wide we don’t where to start filling them in. It’s the lethargy of not knowing where to start ‘cause there is so much to be done. It is the poetry of longing for a future finally starting.



Hellooohooo! We're back in Detroit, this time with Friso Wiersum who will stay here for the upcoming 9 weeks for us. Good to be back, lots of rain, but good to see Detroit in autumn too.

Customs this time went pretty well... although... Friso was picked out of line this time, and was lead immidiately to a back room for interrogation. Actually it wasn't that bad, but they didn't quite get how Friso would stay for nine weeks at someones home who he didn't even met yet. And the main thing: "we just want to make sure that, if you get hit by a car, you won't be a burden to our society".... Well, what to say about that?

And just when things for me looked to be really smooth this time -i went past the customs officer without too many trouble- just before really entering i was asked to again have my luggage checked. This officer asked me some questions: "what are you in Detroit for? For how long will you be staying?", and then: "why do you have so many layers on man?". I replied that it was indeed a little warm. The officer continued: "if you have so many layers on we of course think that you are hiding something from us. What are you hiding?". So i had to open my hoody and then the guy said something that i did'nt quite get, except for the word "belly", so, of course, i lifted my sweater and showed the guy my bare naked belly..... "Don't show me that man!!" he shouted, and i was released to go in to the country. So my belly did the trick this time. Will remember that for the future.



From 19.10.2011 Expodium will be in Detroit again.
Following up the first residents in summer 2010, (Nikos Doulos and Joao Evangelista) and the second, in summer 2011 (Chris Meighan and Jonas Ohlsson) we will be acompanying Friso Wiersum who will be the next resident.
Where Nikos and Joao have been focussing on mapping the social structures and building up an Expodium network, Chris and Jonas have been focussing on Artistic practise.
We know Friso as a historian who is pushing boundaries when they are tight, staying within when they are spacious. A walking paradox? No. A professional in the cultural-political working sphere. He will be focussing on the political and historical situation in D-town and following the same path as his predecessors, he will be processing the experience and info that is gained during his stay after his return back in the Netherlands.

Our Schedule for the upcoming days introducing Friso to our Detroit Network is pretty packed!
We will be taking our new Expothesis by Markus Miessen and 37 contributers to have it introduced in the US of A!

Translation Station #4: Kanaleneiland Event

As a follow-up of their previous three translation stations, all based on their experiences in Detroit, Nikos Doulos and João Evangelista presented their fourth and last one that this time takes place in de Utrecht area of Kanaleneiland. The translation stations are stops in the process in which experiences and knowledge that are obtained in Detroit, are tested in a new context. Expodium instructs the artists it sends to Detroit to physically get their hands dirty and realise projects that are entrenched in the urban situation in Detroit. This method is used in Kanaleneiland as well. That’s why Translation Station #4 focused on finding an appropriate way of applying knowledge that is obtained in Detroit, to the social context of Kanaleneiland.

Nikos got in contact with newcomers in the area during his stay: artists that have come to live in the area and found themselves confronted with the fact that they have to do ‘something’ in the area. The urge or capability however to act collectively is practically non-existent, as Nikos found out. His contribution to this evening thus existed of a performative presentation and slide show entitled ARE YOU PEOPLE?, in which he, together with Mai Linh Ly and Koen Marks (both living in Kanaleneiland), explained why collective feeling doesn’t emerge, what does make it emerge and what their actions were, based on the findings of Nikos. The action that came out of their experiences during last month is the so-called NIGHT WALKERS.

NIGHT WALKERS is a group of artists and inhabitants of Kanaleneiland. They carry out hikes at night in order to, collectively, explore new peculiarities in the area. On this evening too, a night walk took place with a focus on ‘spaces of tranquility’ in the area. The route took us to the promenade along the Amsterdam-Rijn canal, via the Sayidina Ibrahim mosque to the St. Antonius hospital and to the Eyüp Sultan mosque.

João Evangelista presented a service-project SERVICE LAUNCH - from which he will try to instigate a collective response. Based on his knowledge obtained in Detroit about producing bio-diesel, he gave a ‘cooking work shop’. João constructed a bio-diesel lab in the apartment to give a demonstration on how to make bio-diesel. The presentation was filled with references to power relations, political tendencies and alternative economies. During stirring the mixture of methanol, hydroxide and vegetable oil, which took about twenty minutes, the audience could ask questions.

With his service João focuses on the community of vintage Mercedes owners. Within that bunch, there is already some interest in the bio-diesel lab. The upcoming period, João will pass the knowledge about bio-diesel production on to inhabitants of Kanaleneiland in order to create a collective around the lab. The lab is made mobile in order for it to travel with the inhabitants who are interested in continuing it.

Both presentations of the projects are moments in the trajectory of locatie:KANALENEILAND. The upcoming weeks both NIGHT WALKERS as the bio-diesel lab will be continued.


Translation Station #4

15.10.2011 | 20.00-23.00 | locatie:KANALENEILAND (Auriollaan 98)
João Evangelista | Nikos Doulos

As a follow-up of our three previous translation stations, all based on our Detroit experiences, We present the fourth and final translation station, this time in Kanaleneiland, Utrecht.

The translation stations are stops in the process of testing experiences and knowledge learned in Detroit, against different contexts. As Expodium assigns the artists they send to Detroit to get their hands dirty in order to come up with projects that root in the urban situation there, this method is also applied to Kanaleneiland. Therefore, Translation Station #4 focuses on finding an appropriate way of applying the knowledge gained in Detroit to the social context of Kanaleneiland.

João Evangelista | SERVICE LAUNCH 1& 2

What proverbial power lies dorment in a neighborhood like Kanaleneiland? What groups of people already have their own productive way of looking after their own? João Evangelista will be showing a straightforward way of producing power, kick-starting a communal way of working on a shared interest.

Nikos Doulos | ARE YOU PEOPLE?
with Mai Linh Ly & Koen Marks 20.00
Nikos Doulos' performance is rooted in collecting information obtained while taking baby steps towards a collective doing. During his stay in Kanaleneiland this last month, he hooked up with many local artists and initiatives and tested several ways of operating as a collective, focusing on the 'why' rather than the 'know how' of such an activity. The emphasis was put on its necessity as a format for doing and creating a sense of 'belonging to' instead of it being a top-down initiative.

And of course one more NIGHT WALKERS session!


NIGHT WALKERS is a group of artists and residents in Kanaleneiland, Utrecht.
They initiate night walks around the area.
Meeting point: Front porch at Auriollaan 98!

allow yourself to get affected by the urban night-scape.