Monday, September 24, 2007

Intersection Exhibition Essay

“Neighborhoods have life spans. They begin, evolve, mature and die. But while this evolution is displayed by the decline of its buildings, it seems that the lives of the inhabitants are the internal force which generates the decay. People, not buildings, are the heart of the matter.” – Will Eisner, from his Introduction to his graphic novel, “Dropsie Avenue.”

Since the trails made by Native American peoples gave way to Judge Woodward’s grand city scheme, this intersection has seen a lot of people pass through and constant change to its infrastructure. Massive homes of prominent Detroiters were replaced by tea rooms, music stores, and the like. A clothing warehouse would overtake the entire block, but even that was felled to make room for the current building, a fortress in stone and glass.

Now it’s our turn.

To the rich history of this intersection, we add our own contribution. In order to set the stage we want to establish our identity and location and engage the community. Brought together to learn about this site and one another, Intersection exhibition participants examine and offer a response to our literal intersection – its sights, sounds, history, the people that inhabit it, the architecture, anything that strikes them.

Rather than being a limitation, this narrowing of focus proves expansive. As Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, “a man can walk forever in an area of only a few square miles.” The modern mathematics of fractal geometry echoes Thoreau – the deeper we look the more we discover.

Thus despite being ostensibly about a single location, the exhibition is wildly diverse, reflecting the diversity of experience of the participating individuals. From a multitude of perspectives, the exploration of this single intersection becomes a microcosm of something much larger – Blake’s “world in a grain of sand” as it were. By looking intently inward, we’ve begun to look outward.

This site then, is both literal and conceptual intersection – a nerve center for the convergence of people, places, and ideas. It’s quite fertile terrain where ideas collide and new perspectives emerge. But this convergence doesn’t stop with the exhibition. No, this is a starting point, an opportunity to learn from one another by engaging in an ongoing dialogue at this intersection.

And by “engage,” we mean it in all senses of the word: it’s a promise, a commitment, it’s a means to get your attention and hold your interest, and it’s a signal to put things in motion. People bring life and energy to a place – together we send out roots here and let possibilities bloom. – Nick Sousanis, Director of Exhibitions

Detroit, Michigan. September 22, 2007

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