If I was an artist or, uh, social practitioner working in Detroit right now, I’d be pretty pissed off at all the obsessive media focus devoted to what’s been dubbed ‘Detroit Ruin Porn‘ (for a great critique of said genre of porn, see this). Actually, it already does kind of piss me off, even though I’m not a Detroiter, because I’ve read about so many vastly different–and far more productive–ways that Detroit artists (and not-artists) are engaging with their city’s post-industrial context. See Imagination Station, Detroit Unreal Estate, Yes Farm, and Catie Newell’s Salvaged Landscape project for just a few quick initial examples of what I’m talking about. In my opinion what is happening in Detroit right now is one of the most fascinating, timely, and significant developments taking place in contemporary art practice–way more deserving of coverage than, say, whatever the fuck James Franco is doing with whichever poor artist (aka Sucker) the guy currently has under his spell.  To this end, I’m hoping/planning that Bad at Sports’ blog will be able to provide periodic coverage of Detroit’s art, culture, and social practice scene very soon. (Interested in contributing? Tweet me).  Art21 blog has also been providing some great coverage of what’s been happening in Detroit via guest blogger Allison Glenn’s terrific recent series of posts.

If you live in the Detroit area yourself, you should definitely check out the Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference taking place in Detroit today and tomorrow, April 6-7. It’s the third annual iteration of this conference, which brings together creative practitioners, business owners, educators, and designers to explore how cultural development strengthens post-industrial cities. This year’s conference homes in on the “creative supply chain” as a means of catalyzing economic growth, entrepreneurship, and land use. Go here for information on the conference’s lineup of events. They’ll be talking about what constitutes a creative economy and the role that artists and creative practitioners can play in the transformation of the post-industrial rust belt. Keynote addresses will be given by Jennifer Goulet of ArtServe Michigan; Peter Kagayama of Creative Cities Summit; Josh Linkner, Founder of ePrize; artist Theaster Gates, currently in residence at University of Chicago; and artist and writer Allee Willis.

But wait, there’s more! Also taking place in Detroit April 6-10 is Art X Detroit, an exhibition of works created by the 2008-2010 Kresge Eminent Artists and Artist Fellows. Check out Art X Detroit’s Vimeo page for videos on each exhibited artist. Here’s the one made for Louis Aguilar:


Louis Aguilar from Art X Detroit on Vimeo.


Detroit is alive. It’s time we all started paying more attention.

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for Artforum.com and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.