The city of Detroit is a mecca for photographers drawn by the allure of ruins and the post industrial landscape of a place once considered the embodiment of the American dream. A new exhibition on show at the Detroit Institute of Arts, titled Detroit after Dark explores the city at night, capturing the sights of a city that bubbles to life after the sun sets. Featuring works by local photographers and renowned names such as Robert Frank the exhibition spans decades of interest in the city and its characters.
Highlights from the show include Scott Hocking’s photographs from his Detroit Nights series that capture a stillness to the city among the decay and patches of derelict land. Elsewhere images by the likes of Sue Rynski and Leni Sinclair depict Patti Smith, Sonic Youth and MC5 at various venues and dive bars around the city. Music has long-been Detroit’s main cultural export, and it’s unsurprising that so many of the images show the diverse range of artists that have performed and lived int he city. Inevitably, Jack and Meg White make an appearance in photos by Doug Coombe.
The exhibition is an expansive survey of the city, and set in the grand marble halls of the DIA, manages to capture the defiant attitude of Detroit and the independent spirit of the city. More recent works discuss the gentrification of the city, such as Jon DeBoer’s In Between that shows an empty space where a shop used to exist and the bright lights of downtown Detroit behind. “This view will change once the area is developed,” notes the photographer, “but for now we see the stunning architectural details of these historic facades.”
“With this exhibition our community will connect to our collection in a very personal way,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director. “These photographs document times, people and places that no longer exist in Detroit or bring to light things we take for granted in the city. Visitors will experience Detroit in a new and surprising way.”
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