Building Sculpture

Using derelict buildings seems to be becoming a trend in the art world – or has it always been so and I’ve just missed it!

In 2007 Richard Wilson created a piece called ‘Turning the Place Over for Liverpool’s Capital of Culture Year.  It was a huge, rotating, circular section in the side of an old multi-storey building.  At one moment in its rotation it looks quite normal, but then it becomes completely disorienting as it slowly spins round and out of its correct position.  Here’s a video – it’s definitely worth a look!Turning The Place Over

Another building sculpture I’ve noticed recently is ‘From The Knees Of My Nose To The Belly Of My Toes‘ by Alex Chinneck (the link goes to an article on designboom) where the whole front of a terrace house in Margate appears to have slid off the building as if it was made of rubber.   Follow the link and you’ll find an interesting little video on the construction of the artwork and to quote the little girl in the video – “the house is very, very cool and very, very artific.” – although, some clever dick in the comments noticed that the satellite dish was facing the wrong way.  There’s always one!

From The Knees Of My Nose To The Belly Of My Toes by Alex Chinneck

From The Knees Of My Nose To The Belly Of My Toes by Alex Chinneck 2

Derelict Detroit, or is it?

I’m sure that we have all heard on the news that Detroit has gone from the wealthiest city in the United State in the 1960’s to being officially Bankrupt in 2013.  It is a terrible state of affairs that a whole city and it’s inhabitants should be in such dire straits, and it is more than likely yet another example (although an extreme one) of political laziness and corruption.

One of the inevitable casualties of this situation is the city’s historic buildings.  Without the necessary money to maintain and/or restore them they are falling into disrepair and dereliction.  Many cities and towns will have a least one building of historical interest and many have had great buildings bulldozed over the years – usually in the name of progress, but actually due to a simple lack of imagination.  If an interesting building has to be demolished it should at least be photographed extensively before it is lost forever.

Philip Jarmain, a Canadian photographer, has visited Detroit and managed to take a series of beautiful but elegiac photographs of the city’s decaying elegance (some of which are included below).  I came across the pictures on the Designboom website, but it is interesting to note that the article has received a comment which completely alters your initial perception of the city.  The decay and dereliction presented by both the photographs and the associated article is not necessarily the truth of the situation and proves that although ‘a camera cannot lie’, it cannot tell the whole truth either.  The comment reads thus:-

These photos aren’t entirely accurate. It should be noted that the Book-Cadillac Hotel underwent a $150,000,000 restoration and reopened as the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in 2009. It’s no longer “decayed” as the photographer implies.

Here is the website: http://www.bookcadillacwestin.com

Also, the Whitney building is the David Whitney Building (not to be confused with the Whitney historic mansion/restaurant 2 miles north). The David Whitney building is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation into an Aloft Hotel (parent company is Starwood Hotels).

Downtown Detroit is slowly experiencing a renaissance and that should be shown along with the blight / ruin porn that many seem to enjoy.  James Dawson, sept 10 2013.

Westward Presbyterian Church (1908), photo by Philip JarmainWestward Presbyterian Church (1908), photo by Philip Jarmain

Eastown Theatre (1930), photo by Philip Jarmain 2Eastown Theatre (1930), photo by Philip Jarmain

Highland Park Police Station (1917-2011), photo by Philip Jarmain 3Highland Park Police Station (1917-2011), photo by Philip Jarmain

Fisher Body Plant No. 21 (1919), photo by Philip Jarmain 4Fisher Body Plant No. 21 (1919), photo by Philip Jarmain

David Whitney Building (1915), photo by Philip Jarmain 5David Whitney Building (1915), photo by Philip Jarmain

Book-Cadilac Hotel (1924), photo by Philip Jarmain 6Book-Cadilac Hotel (1924), photo by Philip Jarmain