Monday, October 27, 2008

Contemporary Art Institute in Detroit

We receive emails from CAID, the Contemporary Art Institute in Detroit. They do a lot of work within and for the city of Detroit. The ideas that they produce are inspiring and inventive, crossing the boundaries of social issues in Detroit and using fine art to better its surrounding civilization. Here is one such email that we received this week that is a curatorial statement from a past show called Shelter. This copied in its entirety from the email sent by CAID.

How can you expect a man who's warm to understand a man who's cold?
-Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich

In the early pages of Solzhenitsyn's signature work we get a palpably bone chilling description of the gap between those who experience and expect comfort and those who do not. The problem is simply and starkly stated. The gap is one of understanding. The out side temperature is 17 degrees, Ivan's is 99 - not enough to get him a work release for the day -- a decision made by the man sitting comfortably behind a typewriter who thinks Ivan is a slacker.

First comes understanding then comes solutions.

No, that's not right.

First comes experience then comes understanding then comes compassion then comes the attempt to find solutions.

The poor you always have with you.

Until we understand.

We are the poor.

I wish there was a requirement that anyone aspiring to become an elected political official would have to spend at least four years living below the poverty level (college would not count)

I wish those aspiring to the Priesthood or the Ministry or the position of Rabbi or Mullah would actually have to spend at least two years raising sheep. (Mohammed said that no one could be a prophet if they were not first a shepherd.) If they spent all night delivering lambs in the minus10 degree temperatures of February they would understand what it's like to have cold so deeply rooted in their bones that they couldn't get warm enough to fall asleep. (Preferably, this requirement would take place in Michigan)

And for every lamb lost they would experience grief and guilt beyond their imagining without the sound of rifles or bombs.

(Ok, this should be a requirement for politicians as well.)

I wish those in need would have shovels. There is no tool that gives a person such a sense of power.

A garden is power (even if a house is cardboard) and potatoes are easy to cook.

But what do I know?

I am (when all is said and done) a stonecutter, a shepherd, the father of seven children, the maker of hundreds of dollars a year, the builder of my own house, a man sitting uncomfortably cold behind his computer, writing.


Seeking potatoes.

In the course of putting this exhibition together, I had the amazing realization that "shelter" is a noun and a verb - the measure of our humanity and culture.

Hugh Timlin, Shelter Exhibition Juror
September, 2006

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