Rethinking the Role & Site of Social Services: Mike Kelley’s Suburban Home at MOCAD

Image via Artlog

Michelle and I visited this project when it first appeared at MOCAD back in 2010, and it’s incredible to see the next phase of this, just announced as a massive new addition to the project in Detroit that seems possibly not unlike Project Row Houses, but with a distinct Detroit feel.

From the article on Curbed:

The installation will be a replica of Kelley’s childhood home in the suburbs which will be used to provide social services to Detroit residents. Kelley himself oversaw the first stage of the project in 2010, when a mobile-home version of the suburban dwelling made a maiden voyage from downtown Detroit to visit the original Kelley home in the suburbs. The video of this, completed just before he died, is what premiered at the Whitney Biennial yesterday. Kelley’s idea was to create a symbolic reversal of the white flight that occurred in Detroit in the 1960s.

From the NYTimes article:

It will function nothing like a traditional museum or gallery and will show none of Mr. Kelley’s work, at his own insistence. The mobile-home part will remain detachable and will sometimes take its leave of the rest and journey through Detroit. The home as a whole will operate as an unconventional community service office, providing things like haircuts, social services, meeting space and a place to hold barbecues and perhaps for the homeless to pick up mail. “We’re thinking that our education staff will actually move out to the homestead and work from there,” said Marsha Miro, the acting director of the contemporary art museum.

It’s really curious to think about a long-term project like this being launched by an artist and carried forward (posthumously) by a museum, not to mention the complications of the politics of the architecture itself. I’m not sure what it will mean for the community immediately surrounding MOCAD, but it’s an incredible example to point to in terms of how we might rethink a number of institutions that provide social services.

Pierre Huyghe’s Streamside Day

Pierre Huyghe's Streamside Day

I was watching Season 4 of Art21 today and was reminded of this work by Pierre Huyghe, who creates films, installations, interventions, and public events.

Streamside Day was a work in which Huyghe scripted a celebration for a small town named Streamside, which included costumes, deserts, songs, speeches, parades, and decorations. You can read more about the project in the interview, and there’s also a video there of the project.

So, I have to wonder, when will we begin our plans for a Windsor-based parade? A “Windsor Day”, a celebration of everything that makes this city what it is (which will by definition have to include the numerous things wrong with the city), a parade with small floats, inflatable sculptures, and marching bands. We’ve talked about it before, maybe we should plan one for next summer.

The Leona Drive Project

The Leona Drive Project Photo by  Ian Muttoo

Organized by The Public Access Collective in collaboration with L.O.T. : Experiments in Urban Research (Collective), The Leona Drive Project took six vacant bungalows set for demolition by HYATT HOMES, a developer in Willowdale, Ontario, and turned them into temporary sites for art interventions.

The project is already over, it was up for just the last week of October, but it looks like it was a huge amount of fun, and obviously drew parallels to our own Indian Road. From their site, “While the curators anticipate several sub-themes emerging from the individual artists, the overall problematic for the exhibition is the remarkable shift from the suburbs of old to the suburbs of contemporary Canada, namely the neighborhoods and precincts of the multicultural, but nonetheless parsed state. As such, the project will interrogate what has been lost in terms of the older identities and utopias, domestic, regional and national, and the concomitant transformations around issues of gender, race, class and what was broadly proclaimed as the good life.”

Late last spring, there was some discussion about putting together a proposal for The Leona Drive Project along with some other Windsor artists / thinkers, but we just couldn’t pull our idea into the right context for the project. Our idea involved working in some capacity with the houses on Indian Road. That idea, along with some other recent discussions about the potentials for other installations to occur on a series of vacant lots or the like, might just lead to something doable. Really, there are so many places around the city that could be the centre of an excellent conversation, we need to start addressing them, so be on the look out, or help us track down some landlords (landlords other than the Ambassador Bridge).

What To Do With Malls When They Die?

Devonshire Mall, Windsor, Ontario from Google Maps

WorldChanging recently wrote about some malls in the US that died (or are in the process of dying) and what was being done with the space afterwards. It seems that some malls are being redesigned as mixed-use developments, with arts/community centres and housing. Reusing existing spaces for this type of redevelopment and activity is surely positive, but it seems that some of these projects are being billed as new downtowns. As most malls are built away from other other development, and many are designed around (or rather within) fields of parking lots, should these spaces really be considered a new “downtown”?

If this happened in Windsor, what might be the results? Devonshire Mall is over 1,000,000 square feet. That’s a lot of space for apartments, studios, galleries, shopping, markets, even a school. However, would this type of development just take the focus away from fixing our downtown (or is it already a lost cause?) Also, more questions would certainly be raised about a private space functioning as public space, as even the sidewalks of a “street” would suddenly be under private ownership. Other spaces in the city like old factories, the Home Depot right beside the mall, and even shutdown churches all seem like they could foster a good type of growth by converting those spaces into (hopefully) accessible places for artists, community groups, and housing. How do we start?


Craft Work – Radical Craftivism in Melbourne

Radical Cross Stitch, Melbourne Revolutionary Craft Circle


In Melbourne, Australia, there is a “ton of land” sitting vacant, while many young people have no place to live. The Melbourne Revolutionary Craft Circle decided to comment on the situation by cross-stitching “I wanna live here” on the fence containing the land being hoarded by developers. They also planted some vegetable and flower seeds around the area and spent about 3 hours on this intervention.

Very poignant statement and addressing issues local to them = really, really good. Also, exciting to see a way to tackle the fence that doesn’t have to involve leaving plastic cups (biodegradable or not) or other refuse in a neighbourhood to make a point.