Having been in Detroit a bit longer now, we cycle around with some confidence. No need to bring a map any longer, that's good. We meet artists at parties and on openings, open studio days etc. and we simply ask them 'Can we visit you in your studio sometime this week?' When visiting artists it seemed that the hypothesis or questions we brought with us were setting us on the wrong track.
Hypothesis 1: The empty realestate of Detroit has a lot of potential for the artist. The Detroit artist seases this change and uses old buildings for exhibiting art in some Pop-up format.
Hypothesis 2: With his/her first tries in exhibiting in old gritty buildings the artist notices that this is a lot different that exhibiting in a white cube. It brings other challenges with it.
Question 1: Do these challenges force the artist to develop his/her art in a different (more site-specific) way? Is the exhibition therefore more site-specific?
Question 2: Is there a direct relation between the challenging nature of old (industrial) buildings and a movement towards site-specific art?
I think you can read that these hypotheses and questions show what we wished to find here, but it might have been that we were thinking a little to deep. The first hypothesis however sort of got an answer to it.
Some days ago we visited a collage artist who bought the houses next to his to keep them from being squatted over and over again by prostitutes, junkies and other folk you'd rather not have living next to you. He now has space enough to house his family, host other artists and have a nice, spacious studio. Faina and Graem of Popps Packing bought their meatpacking factory ten years ago and transformed it into a functioning creative work/living space where on openingnights the whole artist communitiy seems to gather. Today we saw a large group of artist that started a studio building right next to the recycling centre, so they would have the first pick of all recycled materials (to build art cars and robots and other crazy shit of: MUD and recycling centre). Next week we're going to visit a yough artist of only 30 years old that has bought an intire factory on his own, lives there and rents out studiospaces to other artists. On top of that: this week we've been to the opening of a solo exhibition of an artist that has bought a huge factory with his friends, just for his graduation show!
Artists seem to be entrepreneurs here, which makes sense giving the fact that there are not many functioning galleries and if you would want to show your work to the world, you'll have to put in some effort of your own. It's realtively very cheap to buy a building and responsabilities on the appearance of the building are way less severe as they are in the Netherlands. If I would be a Detroit artist, I would have a factory right now. The thought of being a houseowner feels absurd, yet tempting.
So +1 point for America in the direction of actually being the greatest country of the world.