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‘Cardiovista: Detroit Street Photography’ focuses the lens on the heartbeat of the city

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by Erika DeVriendt

For many years, architects, philosophers and writers have pictured cities as human bodies; imagining the traffic, pedestrians, and signage all to have beating hearts and veins as do humans. University of Michigan-Dearborn Assistant Professor of Art History Nadja Rottner writes that this metaphor of the city as a human body is “a way of structuring thought otherwise too abstract to parse.”

With this metaphoric approach, Cardiovista: Detroit Street Photography will capture just that with the city of Detroit. Photographers Brian Day, Carlos Diaz, Bruce Harkness and Tom Stoye visualize Detroit’s literal and figurative pulse through ten photo-essays focusing on its many ailments, though examining the condition instead as a degree of health.

Photo by Brian Day – “Fly”

Photo by Brian Day – “Fly”

The exhibit, in cooperation with the Alfred Berkowitz Gallery and coordinated by Rottner, serves as the seminar for students in the 2014 Museum Studies course at University of Michigan-Dearborn. The exhibit will showcase essays shot over the past five decades, and range from neighborhoods that spread throughout Detroit.

Photo by Tom Stoye – “Roll Call”

Photo by Tom Stoye – “Roll Call”

“The primary focus [of my portfolio] is on the culture versus just photographs of graffiti,” featured photographer Tom Stoye states. “The people and places that I’ve photographed in southwest Detroit are not only a representation of what exists, but also a record of the experience derived while taking photographs.”

Stoye has two portfolios featured in the exhibit: “The Graffiti Writers” and “How Green Is My Valley.” “The Graffiti Writers” is now in the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Photo by Carlos Diaz – “Looking South along the Highline, No. 1″

Photo by Carlos Diaz – “Looking South along the Highline, No. 1″

Street photography has proliferated in Detroit since the early 20th century, however the genre is still growing and thriving with history yet to be written. The featured photographers of Cardiovista serve as archivists, anthropologists, social critics, and painters who have gathered four distinctive yet collective views on the story behind the Motor City, allowing viewers to appreciate the microcosmic realities that often times remain ignored.

 Photo by Bruce Harkness

Photo by Bruce Harkness

“I avoid celebrity, beauty, the dramatic or ironic, or the artfully seen,” photographer Bruce Harkness comments. “I prefer viewers to be bored by my images, or indifferent, then I know I have succeeded.” Harkness has two projects featured in the exhibit: “Cass Corridor” photographed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and “Poletown” photographed in 1981.

“I have always tried to show the city as it is,” Harkness says. “It is instinctual, pure image making without the trappings in which the soul of the subject can be lost.”

Photo by Bruce Harkness – “Third Street at Willis, c1979″

Photo by Bruce Harkness – “Third Street at Willis, c1979″

Opening this Friday, January 16, all four photographers will be present at the opening reception from 6-9 p.m., free and open to the public.  A 178-page catalogue featuring both photos and text from the exhibit will also be available to purchase during this time. The exhibit will run through Friday, March 13 at the Alfred Berkowitz Gallery on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus, located on the 3rd floor of the Mardigian Library from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

– This blog originally appeared in Daily Detroit

– Our featured picture is a photo by and (c) Tom Stoye

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4 comments on “‘Cardiovista: Detroit Street Photography’ focuses the lens on the heartbeat of the city

  1. Thanks for your posting on this blog site. From my personal experience, there are occassions when softening right up a photograph could possibly provide the photographer with a little an imaginative flare. Oftentimes however, the soft blur isn’t precisely what you had as the primary goal and can often times spoil a normally good photo, especially if you intend on enlarging that.

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