Backlash builds for visions of Detroit at Venice event

By Louis Aguilar

May 24, 2016

Excerpt: “This is not Detroit’s imagination on display.  It is outsider thinking, untamed and turned on by the exoticization of a place they do not know or understand. It reeks of colonialism.” – Detroit architect Gina Reichert

“A website called Detroit Resists has launched that defines itself as a coalition of local architects, activists and artists who wonder if the Biennale is going to be inclusive. A local artist named Bryce Detroit has started a crowdfunding campaign to travel to Venice to be part of a Biennale protest organized by several Italian art groups. … “Detroit is the ideal place” for the Biennale, said Monica Ponce de Leon, one of the two curators behind the Detroit exhibit.”

If the curators were actually interested in learning about “Detroit’s architectural imagination,” formalist academic architecture would be the last place to look. Detroiters are actively producing visionary ideas about space and the city, and have been for decades— building alternative infrastructure, collective land ownership models, community support systems, cooperative economies, and creative modes of resistance; asking the right questions because they understand the reality they live within.


Venice Bienniale’s disappointing visions for Detroit

By Michael JackmanMay 24, 2016

Excerpt: “You see, what architects generally do is see the parcel of land as a blank canvas to design their masterwork, its neighbors be damned. They are determined to offer buildings that cannot be modified easily, cannot adapt in supple ways, demand to be viewed at a distance, and come from entirely their imagination. And if there’s one thing architects really care about, it’s their imagination. The people who have to live with the product of their imagination? Well, not so much.

Given these trends, it’s hardly surprising that the Detroit-inspired work on display at the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architectural Bienniale looks interesting and appears to be completely uninformed by the people it is ostensibly designed for: Detroiters.”