Although our lives rely completely on a hyper-industrial global economy, a belief in the promise of industrialization itself — which is the promise of less burdensome living for all — is on the wane, especially in a city like Detroit, where it is all too apparent that a total reliance on massive and industrial economic drivers has significant drawbacks. However, few indeed — myself included — would argue that the building of any new factories in the area represents anything but a positive gain for the city. Thus we find ourselves in a paradox of enthusiasm, fear of and reliance upon industrialization.
The show currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (a Knight Arts grantee), “Post-industrial Complex,” adds to this dialogue by presenting what could be described as the practical folk industry of area makers who, for a wide variety of reasons, have decided to take matters in their own hands. Their handmade creations include a rocket, a syrup collection service, a hydroelectric turbine and much more. Accompanying each piece is a video interview with the maker to provide more background on the inspiration and motivation for their work.
On display concurrent to “Post-industrial Complex” is an independent project and exhibition curated by architectural historian and critic Nina Rappaport, titled “Vertical Urban Factory.” Serving as a rapid education on the history of the factory — as well as the contemporary state and future hopes for industry — “Vertical Urban Factory” provides critical context to understanding how it is we’ve gotten to the current state of globalized industrial economies, and offers hints to what we might expect — or, perhaps, should demand — from the development of urban factories in the future.
“Post-industrial Complex” is on display through July 29 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit: 4454 Woodward Ave.; 313-832-6622; mocadetroit.org.