This book brings together documentation of work made in and about Detroit from 2017 to 2018. It includes writing and images from pieces including: “Walking Detroit” (2017-2018), “Michigan Avenue: Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI to 47330 Michigan Avenue, Canton, MI” (2017), “Unsettling: A Walk through Cranbrook” (2018), and “Architextural Disruptions” (2018). Appendices include slides from a research presentation on Detroit history, and a bibliography.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SECTION 1: DETROIT
Walking Detroit (2017-2018)
Interlude: Installation April 4, 2017
Grand River Avenue
Interlude: My Mother’s Store
Michigan Avenue: Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI to 47330 Michigan Avenue, Canton, MI (2017)
Interlude: Installation December 8, 2017
Dearborn & Inkster
Interlude: Installation August 25, 2018
SECTION 2: CRANBROOK
Unsettling: A Walk through Cranbrook (2018)
Architextural Disruptions (2018)
Interlude: All Times Exist Now
Appendix A: Research Presentation
Appendix B: Bibliography
“Alec Finlay‘s ‘The Road North’ loosely echoes the seventeenth century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho’s work The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Basho’s work is one of the canonical works of Japanese literature, written as a prose and verse travel diary, in haiku form. It was written on a journey through Japan’s remote north eastern region of Tohoku.
Finlay’s work takes Basho’s work as a starting point which he freely adapts, echoing Basho’s thought that “every day is a journey, and the journey itself home”. ‘The Road North’ documents Finlay’s walking journey around Scotland. Each stopping point is marked by the consumption of a miniature bottle of whisky and a short haiku-style poem. The work offers up unexpected comparisons between Scotland and Japan: most obviously, between the urbanized, hard-headed south and a romantic, isolated north. Finlay combines wry wit and wonder in his multifaceted practice where walking and publishing play equally important roles.”
“Wrights & Sites are a group of artists and researchers whose collaborative work is focused on their relationships to walking, cities and landscape. The group was founded in 1997 by Stephen Hodge, Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Cathy Turner.
They argue that “walking and exploring the everyday remains at the heart of all we do. What we make seeks to facilitate walker-artists, walker-makers and everyday pedestrians to become partners in ascribing significance to place. We employ disrupted walking strategies as tools for playful debate, collaboration, intervention and spatial meaning making. Our work, like walking, is intended to be porous”. Walking is accompanied by “dramaturgical strategies” – i.e. the outcomes of their works are often site-specific performances.
Their ‘Mis-guide to Anywhere’ is, they claim, “a utopian project for the recasting of a bitter world by disrupted walking”. Their work “links the tangible and the imagined” and is a form of “serious play”. It is an activity in which the role of the artist “might become that of guide, or mis-guide, rather than the narrator or interpreter of a particular place”.
Wrights & Sites make use of the intellectual toolbox associated with the canon of writing about the role of ‘the flaneur’, in order to arm us for a consumerized and militarized world. Wrights & Sites observe that in this strange era of the twenty-first century, to go walking in many parts of the world, from war zones like Afghanistan through to most British city centres, is to be under continual surveillance.”