January 2011: I am preparing for my first real visit to Detroit, the city of my birth. I am a Californian, where I have been since age one when my parents packed me into a car to seek fame and fortune in LA. It is strange to be defined by something unknown but when asked if I am a "native" Californian, I answer, "No, I was born in Detroit." It seems time to investigate what that means. So I have come "home" on my birthday to photograph Detroit.

This blog is part of an accompanying journal about the project.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Back, Back Again, Going Again...

From the look of the blog, it would seem I have not been thinking of Detroit since I posted before my March 2015 trip there, visit #7.

To the contrary, Detroit has been totally on my mind since then for I had been offered an amazing opportunity to exhibit this in-progress project in Europe in the fall in Lille in France's northwest in connection with a major festival: Lille3000/Renaissance, an examination of five international cities in the midst of positive change.  DETROIT:DEFINITION at the Maison de la Photographie in Lille opened on 24 September and is about to close this coming weekend.  I was privileged to share this large and wonderful exhibition space with Guillaume Rivière, a well-known French photojournalist who photographed Detroit also this past March for the French magazine, IDEAT.

With a slew of new images from seven visits to France (now eight!) and a greater focus on what I wanted to capture in Detroit, the exhibition - almost 50 prints of mine!-  was terrrific, the opening beautifully planned and filled with so many French and others totally fascinated by what is happening in Detroit, a symbol for so many of how a city first decimated by the loss of a major industry - like Lille as it happens with the loss of their major textile industry - can gather itself together and restart its soul.

And while my French could use some work, I found myself giving interviews in French, writing and translating and/or working with translators on my exhibition essays all about this city founded by the French in 1701 by General Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac.  The exercise certainly sharpened and slowed down what I had to say and focused me better on this longterm project, bringing me a personal, eye-opening perspective on a grand American city that has been a poster child for centuries now: of America's strength in people and industry for the first half of the 20th century; for the decline of that American dream in the second half and, now well into the 21st, an international model of revival and community collaboration, not yet finished but certainly on its way.

My exhibition catalog with French and English text is available for online viewing at issuu.com.

At the vernissage (opening), a softly played video with the music of Sixto Rodriguez (aka "Rodriguez") set the theme for the exhibition which was, ultimately, about the people of this substantive city I am learning so much about.  Installation shots follow.

My great thanks to the Maison de la Photographie and the city of Lille for this opportunity.  I believe I will soon have some further good news about exhibiting in France.

Soon to follow: reports and visuals from my last two visits to Detroit and where the city feels now but for the moment, here is my exhibition.  I look forward to soon bringing it back to the States.

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