Windsor is Forever: A Short Documentary

With Portland-based artist-in-residence, Jason Sturgill, we reframed his previous project, Art is Forever, as Windsor is Forever  – a community-driven art and tattoo project that gave Windsor residents an opportunity to make a permanent commitment to the city. Participants chose from a flash tattoo set created in collaboration with local artists and illustrators to receive as their free tattoos, which were offered free of charge by Dave Kant of Advanced Tattoo, and Jon Jimenez and Steve Jones of Flying Dagger Tattoo.

During the event, Andrew Frickey captured the tattoo artists at work and conducted interviews. The results were compiled into a short documentary which can be viewed above.

We’d like to thank everyone who came out for the sketch night and to everyone who helped make this project possible.

Tattoos by Dave Kant, Steve Jones & Jon Jimenez.

Short Film Directed and Edited by Andrew Frickey

Join us on March 16 for ‘Tell: Detroit’ at the Detroit Mercantile Co.


In poker, a “tell” is a change in a player’s behavior that gives clues about their assessment of the situation. In the city of Detroit, such clues from residents about the deal they have been dealt are often ignored and misrepresented. Tell: Detroit brings together a group of documentary film makers and Detroit residents to create a collaborative documentation of urban resilience. Tell your anecdote about vulnerability, solidarity, community, or courage.

Saturday 16 March, 10am – 4pm
at Detroit Mercantile Co.
3434 Russell Street Eastern Market Detroit, Michigan

Download Flyer / Join Facebook Event!

Tell: Detroit brings together a group of documentary film makers and Detroit residents to create a collaborative documentary of urban resilience.

Tell: Detroit will produce an open access, free archive to document the experiences of the people of Detroit following the declaration of the city’s fiscal emergency by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on 1 March, 2013.

Anyone can contribute an anecdote to Tell: Detroit. We want to collect and disseminate short stories about vulnerability, solidarity, community, and courage. We are committed to documenting the neglected reality that Detroit is much more than a financial crisis. Tell: Detroit asks what else we need to know, remember, imagine or construct to accumulate different images of the city together?

Tell: Detroit will be filming at the Detroit Mercantile Co. on Saturday, March 16, from 10am – 4pm. Artists, film makers and community activists will greet you and find the right setting for your story. We can record your anecdote in public, in private, on video or audio. Come share your story and be part of this open archive.

For questions, suggestions, or donations, email:

Because Tell: Detroit is a crowd-sourced archive, we are relying on people to contribute by spreading the word – so, please tell anyone you think would be interested in sharing their stories.

Thanks, and see you at the Detroit Mercantile Co. soon!

Tell: Detroit is sponsored by:
Institute of Improbable Poromechanics—Enthusiasts of Urban Leakage (Detroit)
Broken City Lab—Artist Collective & Civic Space (Windsor) 
SCAPEGOAT—A Journal of Architecture, Landscape, and Political Economy (Toronto)

with Producers:
Paige Sarlin (The Last Slide Projector, Buffalo)
Alessandra Renzi (Infrastructure Critical, Milwaukee)
Stephen Zacks (Flint Public Art Project, Flint)
Scott Sørli (Convenience: gallery, Toronto)
Andrew Herscher (Detroit Unreal Estate Agency, Detroit)

In Store: Coda

In Store: Coda from Daragh Sankey on Vimeo.

Happy Long Weekend — the final part of the documentary web series on our Storefront Residences for Social Innovation.

From the director’s, Daragh Sankey, description…

This is the final film in the series and posting it makes me feel all sadhappy.

Sad because I have enjoyed doing this project and now its over and feels like saying goodbye to a lot of people I like who I was kind of creepily hanging out with without them being actually there (ok that sounded horrible but editors probably know what I mean). Happy because this has been a truckload of work, and it’s been really hard finding the time to do it, and now after two years I feel a great weight coming off my shoulders. Also, I’m really happy with how these turned out.

I want to thank all the artists who allowed me to film them and their work and make these films. It’s hugely appreciated. I shot many who didn’t appear in the final product, mainly because of time constraints. But I am very thankful of the experience with everyone involved.

Lastly I have to thank Broken City Lab. Without their time, interest, effort, openness and enthusiasm there is no way this would have been possible. I am honoured to have been involved with such a top-notch group of people. Here’s hoping we have poutines at Phog again before too long.

There, and I didn’t even thank my agent or the academy.

This site won’t see too many more updates, although if anything related to the films comes up I will post it here. To be safe, you can check in on my main blog or follow me on Twitter.

Detroit Je T’aime – a new interactive documentary

Lafayette Coney Island from Detroit je t’aime on Vimeo.

Nora Mandray (director/producer) and Hélène Bienvenu (co-producer) are part of a growing group of people who believe that Detroit, MI, is a laboratory for the city of tomorrow. They’re a duo of French filmmakers/journalists, and they’ve been working for over a year on an interactive documentary project supported by the French Film Institute. DETROIT JE T’AIME tells the story of the DIY spirit that’s leading the Motor City’s transition from the assembly line into a new collaborative economy.

DETROIT JE T’AIME is an interactive documentary that weaves together three stories of com- munity-building in the post-industrial era. It follows a group of female mechanics, an urban farmer and an activist hacker who are each working to transform Detroit into a sustainable city through small-scale DIY projects.

Here’s the interactive part:

* DETROIT JE T’AIME will be broadcasted on a website made up of a series of web pages or “screens.” Each screen will feature a video.

* When you decide you’re finished with a page, you’ll click on the next one. You’ll be taken through the documentary at your own pace.

* At anytime, a “DIY toolbox” will be available in the corner of the screen. The “DIY Toolbox” will adapt itself to the story: guidelines and tools will suggest you to start similar projects depending on what’s happening on the screen (be it a community garden, basic bike repairs, or an LED light project.)

* You’ll be able to share ideas from the film with your friends across social networks.

* Through each screen/video, you’ll have access to a different Detroit neighborhood — historic background will be provided through datavisualization, interviews and/or archival footage.

There’s also a Kickstarter page (they’re looking for funding until the end of July 2012).

And, on the short video above:

Detroit and Lafayette Coney Island has the best coney hot dogs in the world (so say Detroiters). The chili, mustard and onion topped super fast treat is a Detroit staple that simply can’t be argued with. Whether occasional delights on the way to a Red Wings, Tigers’, Lions’ game or daily food, the experience is pure Detroit. The classic style of the small Downtown space recants the Motor City glory days, the customers joke with the Yemeni cooks and the waiters do magic tricks… Mind you it’s hot!


Another incredible look back at SRSI from 2010, this time featuring Andrea Carvalho‘s work on non-places. Daragh Sankey continues to amaze us with these micro-documents … can’t wait to see what’s next!

Here’s the overview from In Store:


We also saw this neighbourhood in The Border – the new-looking houses that Lee’s group explores, right on the edge of the wilderness, are right down the street from the Chappas houses that Simon (of DoUC fame) and Andrea find flowers in.

The area is vacant because the government bought up all the property. (Here is an example document given to landowners) The whole region lies in the path of the Detroit River International Crossing, the government’s new bridge to Detroit, just approved by PM Harper in June. Part of the project is to extend the 401 right to the bridge, so a huge swath of Windsor around Huron Church has been vacant for some time.

The first time I drove into Windsor I drove through this area and the visual impact was powerful. Only later did I hear about the DRIC, and the impact was dulled somewhat: just as on Indian Road (film coming soon!), the houses and stores were sold by the owners for good money, not abandoned due to economic hardship.

Upon further reflection though, there is a different kind of hardship at play. These giant transportation projects, cutting as they do through great swaths of the city, indicate that Windsor is valued more as a place to pass through than a place to live. “Canada’s busiest border crossing” is too powerful a thing; the gardens of Chappas, as they are in its way, cannot hope to stand.


Andrea talked about this concept a lot. To quote:

Marc Augé coined the term non-lieux [non-places] to describe specific kinds of spaces, chiefly architectural and technological, designed to be passed through or consumed rather than appropriated, and retaining little or no trace of our engagement with them. These spaces, principally associated with transit and communication, are for Augé the defining characteristics of the contemporary period he calls ‘supermodernity,’ the product and agent of a contemporary crisis in social relations and consequently in the construction of individual identities through such relations.

The parking lot we see at the beginning of this film is a non-place. The vacant lot in which Andrea and Simon placed the flowers was a non-place, but by their action, dropped the non-. Maybe many more actions like that could cumulatively do the same for Windsor as a whole.

Here’s the original Andrea video from SRSI, for what it’s worth: SRSI – Andrea Carvalho.

In Store: The Border

Another instalment of In Store, featuring Lee Rodney discussing her Border Bookmobile project, in the multi-part documentary that our exceptionally talented friend, Daragh Sankey, has been putting together. Here’s his notes on the latest:

Ed. note: Hey, it’s been a while! I did a lot of overtime and also a freelance job and had to prioritize all that cash money work over this project, but I’ve managed to get one more done. This one is about Lee Rodney and her project the Border Bookmobile. There will be two more films after this: one is a mild recut of an earlier short I did, about Andrea Carvalho. The other concerns Leesa Bringas’ Postcards To Indian Road. I have another film coming, about Broken City Lab itself, but it has ballooned in scope and length to encompass events outside of the SRSI residency, so I don’t know if it belongs as part of this series of films. Besides, who knows how long it will take me to finish!

Lee Rodney’s reputation preceded her. She’s a professor at the University of Windsor, and some of the residents of SRSI and Broken City Lab members had been her students, and spoke very highly of her. Sure enough, there were many fascinating things to document during her stay: the bookmobile itself, the tour of Windsor’s forgotten neighbourhoods, and many fascinating conversations, including the one with Justin that forms the backbone of this film.

There are a number of borders crossing through this film. One is the border between Detroit and Windsor, that divides what in many ways should be considered one city. Another is the border between city and suburb. Also there is the border you see in the final shot. Nature borders the city, but not only at the outside edge. It has a way of creeping back in.

Tuesday Afternoon: Work continues, now with Postcards and the Library Cards

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (1)

Lucy stopped by this morning to keep cutting. Hiba and I painted the letters.

White it is.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (2)

We had a lot of leftover wall paint, which means we not only have more than enough paint, but the letter faces will gain a bit of rigidity and protection since it’s epoxy paint.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (4)

Hiba paints.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (3)

After trying to paint the letters on the wall, we shifted to a make-shift table. Easier to avoid paint running.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (5)

We made a drying rack.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (6)

Protection. Recommended originally by Jennifer Willet. We should actually have more of these on hand.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (7)

The drying rack doing it’s job.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (8)

But, of course, it didn’t fit many letters, so we just started lying them out on the table.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (9)

Two brushes — these might be leftovers from Make This Better.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (10)

Also, picked up the postcards from Dan Bombardier, while he installed for an upcoming show at Artcite.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (11)

Also, Daragh Sankey posted another section of In-Store, his documentary on SRSI … we’ll post it on here.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (12)

Stack of postcards!

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (13)

Oh, and our library cards for the Letter Library.

Printed postcards, gas masks, paint, assembly line (14)

The back of the postcards, as you can see — lots to come!


Another installation of In Store by Daragh Sankey covering some of the incredible work that happened as part of our SRSI project a couple of summers ago.

Here’s the overview of this week’s segment on the Department of Unusual Certainties from Daragh:

I basically shared an area with these guys. Like Sara French and of course the Broken City Lab crew, we were all there over the whole month. (I wasn’t actually there the whole time, but came down for the first couple weekends.)

I had to decide in the editing how much of their footage to include – I had quite a lot, because of their long stay and also because of the sheer scale of their ambitions. I had a cut that only concentrated on the speed dating event, but I thought there was a lot of interest that got excluded so I made it what you see now, perhaps sacrificing cohesiveness for scope and … awesomeliness, hopefully.

Here’s a downloadable PDF of the Tip Sheet from the DoUC site.

Vacancy. It’s one of the big challenges for Windsor, as it is for any shrinking city. The downtown has been hit much harder – Windsor is a classic North American “donut city” where suburban expansion and downtown decline go hand in hand. (More on this in an upcoming film.) There are no easy responses, and I hope that my use of end titles will not seem like I’m trying to argue that the Department’s activities in Windsor led directly to a decrease in the vacancy rate. But their recognition that there was a lack of communication amongst store owners, and their tapping into some of the energy that resulted from opening the lines of communication, seemed to be heading in the right direction, at least.

Nothing’s set in stone, but I have probably three more films to go, maybe 4. There’s some really great stuff coming up, so stay tuned!

In Store: From Scratch

The next instalment of Daragh Sankey’s documentary on SRSI, In Store: From Scratch.


We’re going to start things off with this film that gives a little background. We follow Broken City Lab as they take possession of the storefronts, get them ready for the residencies, and discuss the location and the ideas behind the project. Plus, demon toilet and exploding painting!

So here we go. Next week: disco balls. The week after that: Detroit

Keep your eyes here: