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Words, Images and Spaces. A Language for a New City?

Kyong Park, Francisca Benitez, Pilar Ortiz

Documenting a workshop for visioning of Near Eastside Detroit.

The video "Words, images and spaces" documents the project by International Center for Urban Ecology about an hypothetical urban scenario as an alternative to the corporate redevelopment of the contemporary city of Detroit.

In the Summer of 2002 a group of architects and artists from Detroit and New York, lead by architect Kyong Park (among them, Francisca Benitez and Pilar Ortiz), wondered whether a new city could be born out of some chosen "words, images and spaces". Some temporary works were placed all over the Near Eastside of Detroit as part of a new urban language, that was also inspired by the inner social and cultural values of the local communities.

Three billboards were placed on empty lots in the area and eighteen connoted "magic words" written down on signs were placed on telephone poles, as an hidden vocabulary that reflected people's desires and a way to interact with the future inhabitants and their perception of ongoing urban change. A new floor built out of 1.500 linear feet woods scavenged from demolished houses symbolized the transformation of a new space from the ruins of a destroyed city.

In a critical period for the Near Eastside, when local communities had to face displacement and gentrification, architects and artists chose to support and celebrate the independent ways of community to develop cities, smaller in scale and more personal, closer to the nature and culture of the place and their inhabitants.


Production: International Center for Urban Ecology

USA 2002
Production: 4'40''

Selected for INTIMACY, the 2003 edition of the BEYOND MEDIA Festival organized by Image.