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Unfinished BusinessMichael Jackson, Detroit, and the Figural Economy of American Deindustrialization$
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Judith Hamera

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199348589

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199348589.001.0001

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Up from the Ashes

Up from the Ashes

Art in Detroit’s Emerging Phoenix Narrative

(p.145) Chapter 4 Up from the Ashes
Unfinished Business

Judith Hamera

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 examines Detroit as US capitalism’s putative post-industrial phoenix between 2011 and 2016: both a blank slate and an emerging comeback story. The chapter analyzes key national and local figurations of Detroit’s widely touted arts- and artist-led renaissance that kunst-wash the structural inequities and racialized austerity imperatives of some current redevelopment initiatives. Two Detroit installations, Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project and Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead, challenge these kunst-washed figurations. Both works draw their potency from their status as homes in a period when homes in the city were facing threats of tax foreclosure, water shutoffs, new versions of redlining, and proposed civic abandonment. Each work is discussed in detail using Bertolt Brecht’s concept of the gest. Both installations stage core elements of the deindustrial; both challenge audiences to confront the racialization, selective debility and selective prosperity, melancholy, and uncanniness of deindustriality itself.

Keywords:   Detroit, kunst-washing, Heidelberg Project, Mobile Homestead, Detroit Future City, gest, austerity urbanism, post-industrial redevelopment

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