Model Mobile Homestead

The city of Detroit has seen dramatic social challenges and changes, which can be seen throughout the urban landscape. Now, the winds are changing and a new resurgence is happening. My wish was to partake in the positive change through a ritual cleansing of the spirits for a better future. I chose the Mobile Homestead by Mike Kelleyas a symbolic representing agent for the city of Detroit. Then I transformed that idea into an object, as instrument of change in the ritual purification.

The model, once built, underwent a 48h soaking in a salt solution. The use of salt as a purifying substance is common through out the world, notably in Japanese shinto tradition for clearing bad spirits. The ritual salt soaking took place in the basement of the house we stayed in. It served to mirror the basement of the Mobile Homestead, which is closed off to the public and serves as per Kelley’s wishes as a space for “private rites of an aesthetic nature”. During the soaking the water morphed the wood until the model became a ruin. And it is ironic that by accident my naive and benevolent intentions resulted in the making of a rather sinister sculpture.

The idea of the ruin challenges the premise for pushing for change. The changes happening in Detroit are not all welcomed; The majoritarily african american city is faced with heavy gentrification and displacement as the more affluent suburban white returns to the city.

The Mobile Homestead was built after Mike Kelley’s childhood home in the suburbs of Detroit. And Kelley himself embraced the notion that Mobile Homestead is already a failure, to the extent that it suffers from the same fate as all public sculpture foisted upon an “unwilling public,” destined to become just “another ruin in a city of ruins”