First to be Saved in Case of Fire

performative action + video-documentation
in collaboration with Yota Ioannidou and Sevgi Ortac, and the participation of 14 residents of Detroit. April 2009, Detroit, USA./////

14 residents of Detroit were invited to visit 3 abandoned places in the city (an elementary school, a courthouse and a house) and choose something from there ’to be saved in case of fire’.

A camera was filming them while they were looking for something to be saved, wandering into the buildings as long as and as far as they wanted till they were done or tired or interrupted by the conditions surrounding the buildings; the limits of accessibility, danger, cold, police… The project was conceived as a platform to build up a network and get to know the city of Detroit by its people. It was conceived as a specific route to save this knowledge and experience of a place that, albeit dramatic and decadent, promised counter interventions of urbanism and social change.

In this process of looking for something to be saved in abandoned and already destroyed places, the significance of such a goal fades away and what becomes important instead is the relationship of the camera-us-the tourists/strangers, the persons invited-the locals, and the places visited. The Detroiters (re-)visit these places to guide us through them. We see them through the camera, through their trajectories and their stories and they (re-)see these places through the conscience of our presence.

It was an effort to deal with both the ‘spectacle of decadence’ and the disappointment abandonment brings.

/////This project was made in the frames of the curatorial project Detroit Unreal Estate Agency, of Dutch Art Institute & Partizan Public, Detroit, USA /////