Lee Rodney

Lee Rodney

Lee Rodney

Windsor, ON

Presenting as part of the session: Art in Discounted Spaces - Friday, November 5 at 3:30 pm

Lee Rodney is Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Windsor. She has written on contemporary art, cultural theory and visual culture in a range of books and journals. Her current research investigates the fragmented cultural geography of border regions in North America. Collaborative projects include the Visible City Project and the Border Bookmobile.


Description of Lee Rodney’s talk:

Art and the Post-Urban Condition

In the last few years Detroit has been garnering attention from mainstream media as the poster child for the recession. It is difficult to say exactly what forces have converged to bring this city into the spotlight once again after years of disavowal and neglect, or to draw any conclusions about whether Detroit could ever be subject to a full cycle of gentrification.  What is certain, however, is that that many artists, designers and architects are no longer just interested in depicting Detroit as subject matter,  (meditation on late capitalism or modernity as failed utopia), but rather as a challenging and complex urban experiment, one that attempts to chart a different course than the repeat cycles of business development and demolition that have plagued Detroit since the early 20th century.  This phenomenon is not new: there is an important legacy of urban research that has been building over forty years. The work of architects Steven Vogel and Kyong Park, artist Tyree Guyton, and the radical geographer Bill Bunge have in their various ways been keen participant-observers of Detroit’s strange urban condition. But it now seems that there is a critical mass of interest in Detroit (both from within and outside), and much of the recent activity has taken root in the form of artist/architectural collectives.

Detroit’s Canadian sister city, Windsor, has suffered from some of the same economic woes that have befallen Detroit.  Both cities share a post urban condition that is symptomatic of the auto industry. As a region it is among the largest international urban areas in North America: sprawling, industrial and low density. Recent border politics are slowly dividing this region as it becomes more difficult to cross. However, these challenges have created opportunities for artists to engage, examine and make visible the political and economic forces that have shaped these cities.

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