In the wake of Judge Rhodes’ ruling on Detroit’s eligibility for bankruptcy, it would culturally criminal and financial silly for the artworks of the Detroit Institute of Arts to be sold off to pay back the city’s creditors.
I was present for the ruling yesterday. Talking with union legal counsel, courtroom artists, marshals, press, interested Detroiters–it was a mind-rocking experience. To clear my head I decided to walk from downtown Detroit instead of take public transportation. I’d almost reached my partner’s home when the above image, juxtaposing a personal injury lawyer’s advertisement and a sign pointing to Canada, froze me in place. It seemed a message to the city overall. An invitation to flee, as so many have already.
Detroit’s dramatic population drop shows the attraction of the juxtaposed message. Most probably didn’t go to Windsor, but people bought the basic message.
Now the same exit invitation is being made to the city’s art objects. The Detroit Institution of the Arts is under pressure from the city’s emergency manager to sell off many masterworks. I think there are smarter options. My proposal for a traveling exhibition was published in HuffPo earlier this year. The New York Times also included some of my thoughts on the DIA in a recent news article.