Detroit Resists has released a statement questioning the ambition of the US Pavilion’s “The Architectural Imagination” exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The exhibition consists of twelve teams of designers who will present newly speculative projects that can be applied not only to various sites in Detroit, but also to other cities around the world. Yet while the exhibition aims to understand Detroit’s political, social, economic, and environmental context so that “the power of architecture” can be of service to the community of Detroit, Detroit Resists’ statement claims that in the past this “architectural power” has been indifferent to the political context.
“This architectural power has been manifestly apparent in architecture’s recruitments against indigenous, impoverished, marginalized, and precarious communities across the globe, usually in the name of “development” or “modernization” in the second half of the 20th century,” reads the statement.
“We see audiences worldwide still captivated by the power of architecture in Detroit—awestruck by the spectacle of tens of thousands of families living in houses where the water has been shut off, tens of thousands of “blighted” houses demolished while the need for affordable housing remains acute, and tens of thousands of families evicted from their homes in the course of the largest municipal tax foreclosure in U.S. history.”
Detroit Resists states that they are curious as to what the designers will propose for the future of the city, free from political influence. “We fear, however, that the U.S. Pavilion, precisely as an attempt to advocate “the power of architecture,” is structurally unable to engage this catastrophe and will thereby collaborate in the ongoing destruction of the city.”