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1177/1532708602239265 Crichlow Stan Critical Methodologies February 2003 Cultural Studies Douglas


Stan Douglas and the Aesthetic Critique of Urban Decline

Warren Crichlow
York University

Over the past two decades, Vancouver-based artist Stan Douglas has produced an evolving body of photographic, slide projection and sound, and film and video installation projects. From nascent large-scale panoramic landscape photographs to intellectually probing multimedia narratives on urbanisms transformations, his works persistently excavate the social, political, and epistemological arbitrariness of modernitys claim to progress. Douglas locates his muse in the decrepit past and fabricates, through technical and material means, visual spaces where irrepressible difficulties and dangers, saliencies, and pleasures emerge. Like the best contemporary visual art forms, Douglass film and video installations are highly cognitive and perceptual, designed for experience and completion by unforeseeable meanings the viewer may produce. This article explores the implications of Stan Douglass work for rethinking the social and cultural contexts of education today.

Keywords: Stan Douglas; photography; aesthetics

Do you not feel the breath of an empty place? Nietzsche, quoted by Michael Taussig

I. Le Detroit (1999/2000), a recent installation project by the Canadian artist Stan Douglas, is composed of a 6-minute long, 35mm black-and-white continuous film loop and a collection of 32 large-scale color photographs. The photographs document manicured lawns, shrub-entangled fences, and dusty vacant lots, as well as decrepit buildings, some partially demolished yet all clinging to some mystical remnant of lost grandeur. With these classically composed shots, their strangely beautiful blue skies, and surreal white clouds as background, Douglas proposes a rather haunting interpretation of the social conditions that give rise to urban decay in modern cities such as Detroit. Douglas typically conducts intense periods of research and photographic inquiry or scouting a landscape site that might inspire ideas for a video or film
Cultural Studies Critical Methodologies, Volume 3 Number 1, 2003 8-21 DOI: 10.1177/1532708602239265 2003 Sage Publications

Crichlow Stan Douglas

Figure 1: Row Houses at Hermann Gardens, 1997-1998

production. Such architectural and landscape photography provided a foundation for the specter of urban decay viewed in Le Detroits film loop. In this article, I will describe this film loop as a way into characterizing Douglass aesthetic critique of urban decline and tease out its implications for fostering a richer, democratic public life. In his work, as I will show, Douglas offers the viewer an intensely deliberative space that looks toward and imagines new and different kinds of futureswhat might be otherwise (see Figure 1). I I. Detroits long-standing identification with the automobile industry and with machines is announced in the film loop by the purring engine of a parked white Chevrolet Caprice.1 The soundtrack is otherwise silentor almost silent. For one might hear the wind blow through a desolate place, an abandoned housing project that was once the scene of a vibrant, productive, and hopeful modernity. In its ruins are now the ghostly sounds of emptiness, of wind, slamming doors and fleeing footsteps. Whether the events represented in this film are real or supernatural are questions answerable only in the viewers own unconscious subjectivity. But the chill this loop effects suggests an emptiness so empty anything could happen in [its] continuous blur (Taussig, 1999, p. 1). Le Detroit proposes to be a ghost story.2 In particular, the film projection draws its narrative structure from two literary sources. The first source is Legends of Le Detroit, Marie Caroline Watson Hamlins 1884 chronicle of French-


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Canadian and American folklore and weird tales, what she called the historical and romantic souvenirs [that] hang like tattered drapery around the fair city of the Straits. The other literary referent is Shirley Jacksons 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House, a Gothic thriller whose central protagonist travels by car to the secluded and dreary Hill House to participate in a study of psychic or perhaps poltergeist activity. The young Black woman protagonist of Douglass film bears the named Eleanore, a close resemblance to the young woman named Eleanor in Jacksons novel. The scene of Le Detroit is set late at night in front of a remaining townhouse of Detroits Herman Gardens, a 1930s-style, once all-White housing development that evolved over time into an all-Black project. Now the development is entirely abandoned and in ruin, crumbling from flight, displacement, and neglect. Eleanore stares at the building from the drivers seat of the white Caprice. The look on her face betrays both calm and dread. She may be returning to the scene of a crime or a traumatic event, but the viewer can sense that the protagonist has come to this place in search of something unknown, perhaps some clue left behind. She exits the car, placing a spotlight on the hood to illuminate the building shrouded by overgrown trees. She walks deliberately toward the building, a flashlight in hand. Once inside, Eleanore examines a single footprint left in the sediments of dust and dirt that cover the floor. Passing through the desolate rooms, her impassive looks betray a melancholic recognition of piles of cluttered remains all over the floor, social artifacts such as computer monitors but also furniture and old photographs that appear antique, perhaps dating from the 19th century. Eleanore stops to pick up one of the remains, examines it momentarily, and then uncannily seems to put it back in its rightful place. Climbing the stairs to the second floor of the house, she searches inside a wall for some hidden object until, startled by a slamming door, she hastily abandons the search. Following the same path of her entry, Eleanore flees the building. All of the items she touched or opened as she entered the building either return to, or close to, the positions in which she found themthings fall back into their original place as if the film were running in reverse, but it is not. Eleanore reaches the car, collects the now dimmed spotlight from the hood, and starts the engine. Through a seamless edit, however, the film imperceptibly begins again, leaving the moment of the flight or return uncertain. Clutching the steering wheel, Eleanore stares pensively at the building, preparing to again confront a lone footprint that is perhaps her own. This harrowing scene of return is all the more bewildering in its endlessness repetition. I I I. Many of Douglass installation projects are concerned as much with the ghastliness of failed utopias as they are with what possibilities the past might

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bequeath to the present. Le Detroit is one such work. It considers a historical moment in the life of Detroit and its debris. In this case, the city is a site of calamity marked by fire, race war, urban rebellion, reaction, and urban redevelopment. This vision is curious about, or perhaps it is a curiosity of, that compulsion to repeat both the horror and the horrible in modern urban life. Hence, the indeterminacy of the loop in which Eleanore seems trapped and that the viewer may watch, voyeuristically, over and over again. If the viewer inadvertently walks into the projected light, her or his shadow joins in the murky events on screen. The bodys ghostly afterimage joins many others complicit in the remnant of shady events that continue even after she or he has passed out of the light. Repetition of horror always leaves traces, even if ignored or denied, on cultural memory. Le Detroit aesthetically frames those unsettling traces within the borders of vision and, in doing so, hopes to trigger questions about processes of urban renewal that seem so compulsively dependent on reducing a place to abject obsolescence. Le Detroits combination of film montage projected on a hanging screen and accompanying still photographic works is an installation practice Douglas has employed with increasing acuity in both art gallery and public space since the early 1980s. In Le Detroit, these dual ways of seeing picture Detroit affected by the trauma of historical and material social change. But far from the clich of Detroit as a sad necropolis (Art Gallery of Windsor, 1999, p. 3), Douglass still and moving images extract a sense of the not yet from an extreme example of a more general blighting of history. Disquiet is provoked by photographic and cinematic strategies that (re)turn, however obliquely, to the traumatic thrall of urban defacement. And it is the fact of such an experience that prevents the observing eye from easily turning away. Issuing from Douglass haunting images of Detroit is an unwritten future of the city, one that beckons to be imaginedand perhaps struggled for in the present. IV. I draw the term defacement from Michael Taussigs (1999) recent analysis of the mystical: Defacement: Public Secrecy and the Labor of the Negative. When something is defaced, such as a human body, a nation, a flag, money, a public statue, or a city, the very repulsiveness of the act arouses a strange surplus negative energy from within the defaced thing itself. To see the defaced thing or the wound inflicted is to witness a certain form of desecration, that is, the thing made sacred. To deface is to render a thing or a space empty, but that emptiness contains its own negative energy. If I follow Taussig correctly, I suggest that walking through the secular streets of a defaced city is the closest many of us are going to get to the sacred in the modern world (p. 1). More important, however, defacement can also concern the effort to recoup a negative energy trace and to purposefully redeploy it as a form of unmasking or critique that offers to tell a truth. Here, truth is not a matter of mere exposure of, say, a


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secret. Defacement does not necessarily destroy the secret: Defacement can also produce a revelation. If one lets it, a revelation can, as Taussig emphasized, do justice to the secret (Walter Benjamin, quoted in Taussig, 1999, p. 2). I suggest that Stan Douglass Le Detroit project is engaged in such an attempt of revelation, an effort to reveal through the foreboding labor of the negative. Here, the negative has two meanings. First, negative as in the way a photographic negative is produced through the exposure of film to light. That negative produces its own truths or revelations when it is reversed through photographic processes and reproduced on paper or film montage projected onto a screen. Formally, this idea is the technical device operating in the film montage of Le Detroit. Its special effects are produced by projecting onto either side of a hanging translucent screen, negative and positive versions of the film. An image of Eleanores frightful travail is seen on one side of the screen while its negative counterpart, slightly out of synch by a few seconds, is shown on the other side. The result is that each projection seems to bleed through the porous screen such that the interaction of the two images produces frequent afterimages, shadowy forms that seem to blend into one another producing a third ghosting, flaky effect on the action. These images appear to flicker and shatter on the screen, sometimes crystallizing into near sharp black-and-white focus before receding in a shimmering gray-white murkiness. In constituting a rather arbitrary interaction of positive image and its negative, Douglas aims to heighten the sense of the films indeterminacy and to foreground the lurking threat that pervades the films subject matter (Enwezor, 2000). The second point about the labor of the negative, as Taussig (1999) metaphorically described (following Walter Benjamin), is the burning up the husk of the beautiful outer appearance of the secret as it enters into the realm of ideas (p. 2). Laboring in the negative in this sense is not to reinforce the negative by dwelling on its material facts or its social conventions. Rather, to reveal is to scrutinize the economy of signs in a given historical field, perhaps mystically but always metaphorically, to unleash other energies or other possibilities for reading those signs differently in the social present. Defacement, however, is a double-edged sword: Powers of negation lie entirely in the mode of revelation it is made to seek or seeks to make (Taussig, 1999, p. 3). On one hand, defacement as exposure can work positively to destroy or conceal a secret, particularly a public secret, such as the nature of urban development that has become socially routinized and naturalized in the face of the hushed absence of a demolished neighborhood. (Here, remember Africville in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.) Such things may not be spoken about precisely because they are such public secrets: visible and generally known but [things that] cannot be articulated (p. 5). Live and forget, or We must go on! are usually the justifying phrases. On the other hand, defacement can also be an act of unmasking, of picturing or re-presenting a public secret in a manner that might produce a different

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sort of revelation, one that does justice to the secret rather than render it silent. Taussig (1999) names such unmasking the just revelation. Like Taussig, however, Douglas, too, is skeptical about the revelatory task, his own task. For in aiming for the just, there is always a distinct possibility of falling into error. Is there, for example, any outside or any just revelation to the secret that is therewherever power is lurking? Douglas, as might any insightful artist, sees his work not as explanation but as characterization. For is there any such thing as explanation? Is not such a task, as Taussig (1999) wrote, doomed to [failure] from the outset, a surrender to the way of the world, wanting to be one with and even devoured by the subject matter of the negative (p. 2)? This self-reflexive skepticism, this recognition of a fundamental irony about his work, and any artistic work, is the most persuasive element of Douglass critical practice. His is the capacity (though some might argue that it is a luxury) to make a work of art talk about dilemmas in the modern world, not through the closed text of pure facts, certainties, and answers, but an open work that provokes multiple interpretations and possibilities for meaning making.3 In Le Detroit, Douglas gestures toward the bellowing question of Nietzsches madman, Do you feel the breath of an empty space? (Nietzsche, in Taussig, 1999, p. 1). Douglass reply is an effort to characterize that space by way of an open response, one that points to an emptiness in which anything might happen and in which meaning might be made anew. V. Stan Douglas is a visual artist, not a sociologist of the urban. Born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1960, he is among a number of Canadian artists who have, in the past decade or so, achieved critical international art world attention. But like those great observers of the city, Dubois, Engles, Baudelaire, Simmel, Freud, Baudrillard, and Delany, Douglas engages in extended periods of photographic scouting and archival research to seek out truths hidden, repressed by/in the secrets of the citys imposing public faade. These secrets, and the strange surplus energy they arouse, are subjects he imagines in art. His work reflects a particular hybrid of film/video/photography installation that focuses on a number of issues in contemporary visual culture and theory. These include the nature of aesthetics, the political structuring of the image and the cultural context in which the image circulates, the way sound envelops and alters space, and the uses of both obsolete and new media technologies to render transparentand thus open to reconsiderationthe constructed nature of representation. Although Douglass projects are typically exhibited in spaces of art museums, his intense engagement in/with such spaces challenges the notion of the museum as a space of containment, contemplation and reification (Crichlow, 1999; Enwezor, 2000). In doing so, his work, like any significant


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work of art, attempts to introduce difference to the narratives that inform our present and, if only momentarily, helps to provoke reflection over immediate comprehension. From his earliest work, for example, a 1981 panoramic photographic installation titled Jericho Warf, Douglas has obsessively inquired into the ways European and EuroNorth American urban cultures have attempted to deface both history and natural landscape with rationalized forms of modernity. His photographic research uncovers and examines artifacts of utopic development discourses visible in the sediments of decay. If there is a political intent in his art making, it is embedded in images that, however obliquely, highlight how modernist discourses have yet to come to terms with indigenous cultures and continue to occlude marginalized peoples and life styles.4 In Le Detroit, Douglas continues to pursue forms of cinematic meditation on the iconology of the urban fabric. He eye seems particularly drawn to the pastoral as well as the uninhabited ruins of cities, to the palpable strangeness of nonhuman aspects of defaced human constructions. His images depict, without didactic assessment or sentimentalism, the failure of modern utopias, which he theorizes as a pile of debris (Watson, 1983, pp. 226-255). These concerns with the urban landscape, with urban renewal, and the failure of urban modernisms are variously reflected in a series of film and video installation projects Douglas produced throughout the 1990s. From his perspective, forgotten or naturalized incidents of modern utopia hold within them counterfactual narratives of the past and reveal elements of the future as chance (as much as power) that do not guarantee the received wisdom of our present. Here are a few examples. Set in Paris, France, Hors-champs (1992) juxtaposes expatriate African American free-jazz performance to a history of troubled and only partially realized human freedoms to raise questions about promises of liberty that modern utopias held out. Depicting Nootka Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Nu tka (1996) conjoins the Gothic nature of conflict and paranoia of 18th-century imperialism and the haunting absent presence of Aboriginal peoples in our postcolonial present. Win, Place or Show (1998) is a work of perceptually harrowing and endless scrutiny of the claustrophobic social problems created by modern urban planning and architecture. Given Gothic themes of imperialist dispossession as crime, malignant modernity, slippage of identity, and urban displacement so prevalent in his prodigious oeuvre, it should not be surprising that Douglas would head north to Detroit. Indeed, the Gothic is familiar territory for Douglas. As he wrote in regard to Nu tka, The Gothic romance was typically characterized by a return of the repressed: some past transgression haunts, then destroys, the culpable family, person or social order. It is no surprise that these narratives flourished during the era of high imperialism (quoted in Augaitis, 1999, p. 43).

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In Le Detroit, Douglas again takes on the failed utopias of modernism, only now as urban legend meets hope through ruin. Here, utopia is in reverse. Many of the photographs picture modernist architecture abandoned and in collapse, but others reveal how the pastoral past both endures and returns. Yet in all of the images, it is a return haunted by the knowledge of past transgressions and by a discontented repetition of epic ruin. Le Detroit thus synthesizes the modernist urban schemes of Win, Place or Show and the Gothic underpinnings of Nu tka. If Nu tka is a Canadian Gothic, then Le Detroit is an American Gothic.5 VI. I attended the opening reception of Le Detroit held at the Art Gallery of Windsor on November, 6, 1999. I recall the 4-hour drive west from Toronto, Canadadown the infamously traitorous Highway 401and how relieved I was to finally exit to head south to Windsor. Having never visited Windsor, I finally gained a material sense of that peculiar Canadian pride in the geographic fact that Windsor is the sole point where America is north of the Canadian border. I also remember driving down Howard Avenue toward downtown Windsor. It was dusk, and I could see ahead a looming city skyline of towering buildings. Ah! I said to myself, Windsor is a real city! When I reached downtown, much to my surprise, I discovered that the skyscrapers that had piqued my interest from the outskirts of the city were actually across the Detroit River, in America, in that famous Motor City, Detroit. I parked my car and walked quickly to a Riverside tourist park to peer at the massive infrastructure lining the other side of the watery border. I looked with awe and a flaneurs delight at the faade of urban Detroit that faces Canada, but I was actually thinking, there is America! I am American, actually, but I had not visited Detroit since 1978 when I attended an academic meeting held in August of that year. Twenty years later, I can still recall how struck I was by the emptiness of the central business district. I remember how eerily boarded up abandoned buildings and storefronts looked as I walked, perhaps a mile, from a dingy YMCA located somewhere in the central business district to the new Renaissance Centre, that futuristic hotel, office, and retail complex, where the conference was housed. I recall talking with colleagues from whom I learned that the recently constructed Renaissance Centre was the multimillion dollar focal piece of Detroits urban redevelopment plan. It was emblematic of the citys touted comeback scheme orchestrated by ruling elites in the early 1970s. The intention of this plan was to rebuild economic confidence in the city after fiery events of July 1967. As these memories flooded back during that dusk view of Detroit from a spot on Windsors riverside, my anticipation heightened as I tried to imagine what Stan Douglas saw in his Le Detroit project.


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VI I. What did Stan Douglas see? As I have suggested, the presupposition of Le Detroit is that Detroit is a city haunted by both the past and by uncertainties about future. In many ways, the paradigm of transformation that has characterized urbanisms ambivalent future in North America over the past 50 years happened in Detroit first and has happened there extremely.6 The history and extremity of urban crisis in Detroit leaves the city situated in a particular liminal space, one that may be characterized as between the present and the future. The word detroit literally means straita place in between. French 17th-century explorers who first paddled along the rims of the Great Lakes and through the Detroit River named the region the strait, deriving the term from translations of the Aboriginal names for the region. The strait was also the scene of colonial conquest of the region, marking a site that stood between the new world and old but irrevocably set in motion the transition from one world to quite another. The early explorers who subsequently founded Detroit as a French outpost against English territorial encroachment were not only interested in the search for imperial glory and treasures. They were simultaneously determined to carry their flag and knowledge of their true God throughout the colonized New World.7 Le Detroit thus signals the ghosts of an unspoken and occluded past that continue to haunt the present, Detroits own and that of most other North American cities as well: Aboriginal displacement from the land, as well as the displacement of the poor and the marginalized from the inner city. A past and present of shifting forms of overt and covert race and class conflict have also afflicted Detroit since the mid-19th century, as well as the alienation of hundreds of thousands of workers in an urban-renewed present. A strait is a channel that connects two bodies of water, but it may also refer to the passage from one psychic state to another, from the uncanny back to what has been always known and long familiar. It can also mark the frightening space between these states, between the real and the unreal. It is in such an inbetween state that Douglass vision of Detroit evolved. The project was researched and photographed mainly during the years of 1997 and 1998, as the city lurched forward in the frenzy of urban renewal. It may also have residual origins in Douglass childhood memories. At age 7, Douglas reported that his family drove through riot-stricken Detroit on their way back to Milwaukee after visiting the 1967 Montreal Expo (Laycock, 1999). In Le Detroit, one may witness the artist laboring to externalize the strait between what can be remembered of a childhood trauma and what sense might be made of that trauma years later, in the present. More concretely, I suggest that in Le Detroit, Douglas has accomplished a dispassionate form of still photography that plays in urban time and space, simultaneously on the edges of what happened, what is happening, and what might happen in the urban renewed landscape of Detroit. The film projection

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Figure 2: Michigan Theater, 1998

on a double-sided screen serves as a further strait between what can and cannot be fully taken in by vision: The viewer simply cannot see the flickering play of positive and negative interaction on both sides of the screen. On one side or the other, all the viewer can see are the ghostly results of an interaction that continuously and inconclusively shifts from surfaces of violence to beauty, hardness to fragility, but always with a conceptual rigor that keeps the question of meaning open. Finally, the inconclusiveness of the film loop and the blending through of positive and negative images of the same event slightly out of synch with one another both serve as a metonym for trauma but also hope. Douglas again suggests that things are not yet spent and there is no guarantee for the future (see Figure 2). VI I I. The future often resides in the popular imaginary as a parody of the past. The 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, or even 1980sanytime but nowconstitute possible sites for return to the future. Detroit was once Americas drive train of industry and fourth-largest city, and its past provides a frightening narrative of transformation. Le Detroit is an attempt to visualize this tales present and provide a metaphorical window through which to consider a not-quite-yet-urban future. A June 11, 1805, stable fire razed virtually all of a then-budding Detroit River town, and the race riot of 1943 proved a violent culmination to building wartime tensions in the booming city. Detroits most recent ill-fated story line, however, moves with abrupt steadiness from civil rebellion in 1967 to the dom-


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Figure 3: J. L. Hudson Company Building, 1998

ination of corporate will over civic space and civil society. Its eerie plot shifts from white flight depopulating, deindustrializing, deservicing and devaluing large neighborhood areas of the city to the massive leeching of tax base, jobs, and everyday consumption from Detroits central business district to the sprawl of new suburbs. The result of such spatial and material reorganization is a possible future that rests on a city defaced. Like the return of the repressed, Le Detroit presents a dreamlike witnessing of urban decline. Within and beyond its visual frames, however, this work inquires into a future imagined on a slate cleared of the residues of a cataclysmic past. As much as possible of the iconic public faades of Centre City Detroit, along with its politicized public sphere, were demolished, and neighborhoods were razed, making it possible for developers, those new harbingers of the future, to work a sleight-of-hand magic and get super rich quick. By picturing stagnant residues of a complex history of abandonment, Douglas anticipates the future. That is, a future after the disappearance of such landmark civic and cultural icons as the J. L. Hudsons Department Store building crumbling in decay since closing in 1983, the grand proscenium and stage area of the old Michigan Theatre now a retrofitted parking lot, or the Herman Gardens Housing Project, a last inkling of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelts New Deal social-engineered (utopic) modernism returning to nature (see Figure 3). But what kind of future, Le Detroit seems to ask, does redevelopment, new good time entertainment zones, and gentrification announce? With the accomplishment of a new jack city, what is to prevent urban dwellers from believing that aggressively euphoric narrative of the End of History? If such a

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belief prevails, Douglas (1999) argued, then what is being made real in urban-renewed Detroit and in other urban centers around the globe, is a [social] condition that remains [as] false as it is predicated upon the triumph of rhetoric and defeat of imagination (p. 68). Such defeat, however, is only one possibility. The verdict is not out on such a future, yet! We are, after all, talking about Detroit, Motor City, DRUM, the Motown Sound, and a history of dancing in the streets by people who are very much alive. These too are the pubic secrets of Detroit whose traces lie just beyond the edges of Douglass images. Perhaps it is the will and the imagination to write the unwritten future of the city that Eleanore searches for so furtively and repetitively, the thing that might be found in sediments under and among the strewn debris of a politically and racially charged environment. Perhaps long-time activist Grace Boggs (1998), moving between past and present, in her twilight looking toward the future in a cautious yet optimistic way, states the matter of possibility most succinctly:
I rejoice in the changing of the guard and at the fact that the new generation, which is beginning to discover its mission, is more open than the generation that led the movement in the 1960s. . . . I am glad that I am still around not only as a participant but as a griot to pass on the story of how we got to this place because to paraphrase Kierkegaard, if the future is to be lived, the past must be understood. (p. 272)

In Le Detroit, too, the future is most at stake in a notion of possibility that negatively foregrounds the logic of defacement. The critique of urban decline is rendered not as an end point but as another finality to be bemoaned. Rather, the spellbinding eerieness unleashed by the emptying out of place gives these images their critical revelatory power. It is not a matter of uncovering a truth that animates this visual imaginary but a lending of credence to the unwritten future of the city, one that beckons to be imaginedand struggled for in the knowledge that those things past might have been otherwise. Notes
1. From an interview with Douglas, Okwui Enwezor (2000), adjunct curator of contemporary art at the Art Institute of Chicago, added,
The most common police car models in the United States and Canada are the Chevrolet Caprice and the Ford Crown Victoria and that an unmarked police car [as the type of car seen in the film resembles] is called a ghost car.

2. Although not addressed here, I suggest that Douglass work may be further explored though notions of cultural haunting and remembering so complexly articulated in Toni Morrisons (1987) Beloved. Also see Kathleen Brogan (1998), Cultural Haunting: Ghosts and Ethnicity in Recent American Literature, and Sharon Patricia Holland (2000), Raising the Dead: Reading of Death and (Black) Subjectivity.


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3. The idea of the open work is drawn from Umberto Eco (1971). Also see Crichlow (2000). 4. Here, note a parallel with Samuel Delaneys (1999) work in Time Square Red, Time Square Blue. 5. As American as recent preoccupations in Hollywood cinema. Note, for example, American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, What Lies Beneath, and Fatal Attraction, among others. 6. Thomas Sugrues (1998) The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Detroit is a valuable recent study of these extreme events. Grace Boggss (1998) political memoir Living for change: An autobiography provides a brilliant personal account of her own and her husbands (James Boggs) lives on the Black left and left labor radicalism in Detroit from the 1950s to present-day efforts to rebuild communities through engaged grassroots radicalism. Susan E. Smith (2001), Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural History of Detroit, provides a rich cultural history of Detroit as a major industrial city and the music created in its Black communities in the 1960s. 7. The French explorers probably derived the term from one of the many Aboriginal groups whose villages populated the region. For example, one indigenous name for the present-day area of Windsor-Detroit was Karontaen, or coast of the straits. See Woodford and Woodford (1969).

Art Gallery of Windsor. (1999). Stan Douglas: Le Detroit. Windsor, Ontario, Canada: Author. Augaitis, D. (Ed.). (1999). Stan Douglas. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Vancouver Art Gallery. Boggs, G. (1998). Living for change: An autobiography. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Brogan, K. (1998). Cultural haunting: Ghosts and ethnicity in recent American literature. Charlottesville: University Press of Virgnia. Crichlow, W. (1999). That slippery element of chance: Stan Douglas. Literary Review of Canada. Crichlow, W. (2000, March). Hors-champs: The poetics of seeing double (for Stan Douglas). Paper presented at the University of Western Australia, Department of Art History, Crawley, Western Australia. Delaney, S. R. (1999). Times Square red, Times Square blue. New York: New York University Press. Douglas, S. (1999). Artist statement. Flash Art, 32(206), 68. Eco, U. (1971). The poetics of an open work. London: Harvard University Press. Enwezor, O. (2000). Stan Douglas: Le Detroit. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago. Holland, S. P. (2000). Raising the dead: Reading of death and (Black) subjectivity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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Laycock, J. (1999, November 5). In-between spaces: Not your typical postcard. The Windsor Star, pp. B1, B5. Morrison, T. (1987) Beloved. Thorndike, ME: Thorndike Press. Smith, S. E. (2001). Dancing in the street: Motown and the cultural history of Detroit. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Sugrue, T. (1998). The origins of the urban crisis: Race and inequality in Detroit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Taussig, M. (1999). Defacement: Public secrecy and the labor of the negative. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. Watson, S. (1983). Terminal city: Place, culture, and regional inflection. In Vancouver art and artists: 1931-1983. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Vancouver Art Gallery. Woodford, F., & Woodford, A. (1969). All our yesterdays: A brief history of Detroit. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

Warren Crichlow is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education, York University, Toronto, Canada, where he teaches in the area of cultural studies and education. He is coeditor with Cameron McCarthy of Race, Identity and Representation in Education (1993).