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Un-graffiti in Detroit.

July 8, 2010

Woodward Avenue, with a view of downtown Detroit. Veel dank, Salon van Sisyphus, voor de foto.

I (finally) made it to Detroit this week. The drive through was brief but moving. I am struggling to put together thoughts on what I saw there in a way that expresses my impressions accurately and fairly in light of the fact that all I have is a couple of hours worth of observations. And all of those from a car window, no less. For starters I want to share some graffiti I saw along the drive South on Woodward Avenue from 10-Mile Road into downtown Detroit.

The following were posted on abandoned or semi-inhabited buildings along about a 1/2 mile stretch of decimated neighborhood. The messages were spray painted in black on pieces of cardboard and all in the same, no-frills handwriting. In order, from Northernmost to Southernmost they read:

“Make do.”

“Finest teacher.”

“You’ll work somewhere.”

“Rise up above.”

These signs overlap previous graffiti, broken windows and shuttered shop doors and seem as graphically impulsive as a scrawl on the wall of a public bathroom stall. They certainly represent an emotional outburst, but of a much different ilk than toilet limericks and slander.

Check out Salon van Sisyphus for an article (in Dutch) that comments on the economic situation in Detroit and for a collection of photos that speak to the same.

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