For Chicago, Detroit Isn’t a Distant Reality /

Credit: Wikimedia

Credit: Wikimedia

CHICAGO — Much like the city of Detroit’s epic economic saga, this story took me on a wild goose chase. I’m an art journalist reporting on Detroit from Chicago — or, if you would prefer, the Motor City from the Windy City — and that seems odd. The media craze around Detroit just won’t quit, and Chicago is increasingly finding itself implicated in it all. Perhaps the artists are to blame.

Since March 2012, artists from the Chicago Artists’ Coalition’s BOLT Residency Program have been working on an ongoing exchange with Detroit artists. After visiting each others’ respective cities, exhibition dates were set; in January 2013, Detroit artists exhibited in Chicago, and in February, Chicago artists journeyed up to Detroit for exhibitions at locales CAVE and Public Pool. The cities have henceforth begun building up some motor winds, and ties have grown stronger. Chicago is not “obsessed with Detroit’s ruin porn” as certain local critics would have us believe.

The manufacturing industries are vital to both Detroit and Chicago, yielding jobs that are typically thought of as blue-collar and working-class. Detroit receives far more national media coverage because of its highly publicized sharp motor industry decline over the past 40 years. In 1960, Detroit was the richest city in America; by 2010, Michigan had lost 48% of its manufacturing jobs. Chicago’s manufacturing industry is focused moreso in machinery and fabricated metal rather than the auto industry.

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This story originally ran on Hyperallergic: