Installing at Forest City Gallery

We spent the weekend in London, Ontario. We were installing for our upcoming exhibition at Forest City Gallery, while also briefly wondering about what it would be like to not do site specific work. Anyways, you should plan to come to the opening on September 9th!

We’re working on an installation using our “…and then the city” framework for exploring and unfolding the layers of narrative that go into shaping a place. We’ve pulled together some historical overviews of London, but have really enjoyed using an online questionnaire to hear about some of the narratives on the ground here. Huge thanks to Forest City Gallery and London Fuse for helping to spread the word. All of the answers have fed into the installation in some way, so it’s been a really effective way to get to some of the overarching stories about this city.

The show will run until October 21, 2011, and, in the meantime, what’s more fun than a peak of the install process?

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Re: Collaborating on a big publication, Dropbox ftw

We met yesterday, but too much going on for any photos.

I figure that our shared Dropbox folder says most of the important stuff anyways.

We’re working towards completing our HFBC publication, which includes things like:

  • posters of inventions on crossing an imagined border wall
  • maps and 3D renderings of a cross-border portal system
  • a Canada Border Services consultancy
  • a tunnel token micro-grant
  • proposed public art projects that bring a level of symmetry to Windsor and Detroit
  • sketches of 1000 pedestrian crossings
  • transcriptions from interviews with frequent border crossers
  • new geographies
  • small-scale messaging options across international borders
  • technological imaginings for helping people otherwise unable to experience crossing a border
  • scavenger hunts / geocaching projects
  • renderings of border impediments that don’t exist, but might as well exist
  • some writing to help frame all of this

Excited to continue. Looks like next Wednesday / Friday evening are open…

How to Forget the Border Completely is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council.


BCL Report: End of April, 2011 (the Art of Planning & Collaboration)

Over three days this week, we got a lot done. And, as I write this, stuff is still getting done. This is why collaboration is such a valuable model for art practice.

But, it’s not just about getting stuff done, it’s the challenges, the insights, the novel perspectives that can be brought up around a table that push the work forward. With some of us having worked together for nearly three years, we can anticipate one another and move ideas and projects that much further along because there’s a context, there’s a history, there’s a resonating understanding of what we can do together.

Collaboration FTW.

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The Night Sky Billboard Project by Charlie Michaels & Bird

The Night Sky Billboard Project from Charlie Michaels on Vimeo.

In collaboration with a local sign painter named Bird, who has been leaving his mark along Detroit’s streets for decades, an artist and our friend, Charlie Michaels turned an old vacant Detroit billboard into a big painting of the night sky – for star gazing in the city.

Above the intersection of Mack Ave. and Mt. Elliott St. on the east side of Detroit, a billboard that’s been sitting empty for decades displays an image of the night sky. Allowing those who pass underneath to see the stars more clearly than they are visible in the city, it offers a quiet reminder to notice what is always present but cannot always be seen.

Charlie says, “The collaboration with bird came out of a desire to integrate the project into the neighborhood somehow instead of simply using it as the destination. Streets on the east side of Detroit are covered with hand painted ads and murals – seeing this project as an addition to this gallery already in the street and wanting to acknowledge those artists whose work is already so present, I decided to seek out a collaborator. Bird was amazing to work with because his work is really everywhere, an entire lifetime of painting on view all over the east side.”

The video provides a very cool behind-the-scenes look at the installation and creation of the work. I heart billboards and this project.

Book Sprinting

The act of authoring a book has traditionally been a long and arduous task consisting of many revisions and often years of work. Book Sprinting, on the other hand, is a sort of reaction to the traditional method of book production. In this case, a small group of writers collaboratively co-author, edit, and revise a book in a week or so. The end result is a finished publication that probably has a cohesiveness not present in some books.

I wonder if attempting a one-off publication project like this would be a good idea for us (Broken City Lab). We usually have a half-dozen research fellows around the table at most meetings. I bet we could pull off a nice mini-publication over a weekend.

Via: We Make Money, Not Art (Image from another similar Book Sprinting event.)

New Friends Across the Border: Visiting 555

Yesterday, Lee Rodney (Research Director of the Border Bookmobile) and I headed on a short 4km journey.

We visited the fine folks at 555, a volunteer artist-run arts organization providing affordable studios and workspace, gallery space, exhibition programs, arts education programs, and an artist in residency program. We met at their temporary location, while they await the renovations of their new space down the road (the former 3rd police precinct). Those A and B markers in the map above — that’s how close their new building is to the School of Visual Arts.

We met with Monte, Erin, Elizabeth, and Carl, discussing possible collaborations in the not-so-distant future, as well as spending a good amount of time understanding why they do what they do. The scale and type of efforts are perhaps different than those of say, the Powerhouse Project, or the Imagination Station, but their decisions are based on some of the same ideals (and certainly with the same enthusiasm as our own), how do you build a climate of social, aesthetic and community-based investment here and now?

Their programming and artist residencies offer incredibly engaging opportunities for the community and visiting artists, and perhaps most compellingly, they focus on ensuring that “data” created in Detroit can also give back to Detroit.

We’ll be inviting them over soon, you’ll get to meet them and get inspired too, don’t worry.

The Letters are Done Phase 2!!!

We did it. With a lot of help, we plowed through the remaining eight letters, finishing the papier maché part of the process towards completing our ongoing large-cardboard letters project. On Friday night, we had ten people around the table, including our dear Cristina for a short while, and it was great!!!

Next on the to-do list — get some test paint on some cardboard and start planning how to finish the construction phase of the project.

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