Opening Reception & book signing: Wed, June 15th, 6-8pm
Exhibition on View: June 15 - July 26, 2016
Detroit is my hometown, but I’ve been gone for over three decades. As a child growing up, my father, who worked all his life for General Motors, used to joke and say that we had motor oil in our veins. Even after all these years of absence I still believe there is some small truth to what he said.
These photographs are my reaction to all the negative press that Detroit has had to endure over the past several years. I wanted to see for myself what everyone was talking about, and like everyone else I was initially drawn to the same subjects that other photographers were interested in; the crumbling factory interiors, the empty lots and burned out houses that consume a third of the city, and the massive abandoned commercial infrastructure. It took me a week of shooting this kind of subject matter to make me realize that I was contributing nothing to a subject that most everyone already knew much about, especially those who had been living there for years.
To counter this, I began looking at the various neighborhoods within the city and the people who live within them. This human condition, while troubled, struggling, and coping with the harsh reality of living in a post-industrial city that has fallen on the hardest of times, does thrive, and demonstrates that Detroit is not the city of death and decay that everyone was reporting in the media, but one that shows signs of human activity and movement. However, not withstanding the recent press about Detroit’s efforts to rebound from its recent bankruptcy, which is in all ways promising, my focus continues to rest on the current conditions that affect many of those who have fallen through the cracks, forgotten and marginalized poor people whose lives will only minimally be improved by the recent redevelopment of the city.
But whatever that outcome may be, I’ve found that most Detroiter’s wear their pride for the city they live in much like an honored badge of courage, defying all odds, openly admitting that if you can survive here, you can survive just about anywhere.
My hope is that this work will convey in many ways that Detroit is a city made up of many small communities, all building a way of life through perseverance, hope, and sheer determination. A city clinging to the vanished ideals of an urban oasis that once hailed itself as one of the most beautiful and prosperous cities in America, at one time a model city for all others to follow, but one which has now fallen from grace.
This personal project is not about what’s been destroyed, but more importantly about what’s been left behind and those who are left to cope with it.
Detroit: Unbroken Down
Photographs by Dave Jordano
Text by Nancy Watson Barr, Dawoud Bey and Sharon Zukin
Trim Size: 12 1/4 x 10 1/4
Page Count: 160
Signed copies $50