Welcome To Detroit

  • Propulsion Painting (Ball), Mixed media, 28" x 28" ,2012
  • 1:1 scale Tom Selleck, Website and Detroit Tigers baseball cap, 17" x 22" x 18", 2012
  • TSA Communication: Detroit, February 20, 2012, Single channel video, 04:36, 2012
  • Emergency, Found objects, Dimensions variable, 2012
  • White vs Non-White, (Skymall Liberation series), Archival pigment print, 32" x 21", 2012
  • rodeo-on-orangered.com, Website, Dimensions variable, 2012


Title:Welcome To Detroit
Institution:Eastern Michigan University Gallery of Art
Date:March 14 - April 2, 2012
Location:Ypsilanti, USA


It is no secret that Detroit's creative community has been attracting media attention of late. What started as photos of "Ruin Porn” and "$100 Dollar Houses” led to a flood of additional articles on creative activity in Detroit.

What more can be added then to this already extensive conversation? How can institutions support Detroit's creative resurgence? Eastern Michigan University's Art Department sought to provide one possible answer to this question by awarding Evan Roth the McAndless Distinguished Professorship for 2012. Composed of a 6-week residency in Detroit, a teaching opportunity at Eastern, a solo exhibition and a lecture tour, this award of $30,000 is designed to allow an artist to produce new work and reach across institutional borders.

Evan Roth's exhibition, Welcome to Detroit, will feature nearly all-new work, much of it made during his residency. The work follows his core conceptual framework of appropriating popular culture and combining it with a hacker's philosophy to highlight how small shifts in visualization can allow us to see our environment with new eyes, whether online, at home, in the city or at the airport. His work acts as both a mirror and vault to contemporary society, creating work that reflects and withstands a world of rapid advancements in computing power, changing screen resolution and repainted city walls.

His approach and work process takes inspiration from the free software movement and hacker ethos. The "hack”, a term stemming from early computing culture, describes a clever (often playful) intervention into an existing system that alters the intended purposes or meaning. Like the judo fighter using his opponent's weight to his own advantage, a hack alters the originally intended purpose and turns it into something new. When creating works, Roth extends this metaphor to contemporary culture, and uses it to explore its function in public space, the gallery, pop culture, activism and the Internet.

For Welcome to Detroit, Evan mines everything from the spray paint can, to hip-hop music, to airplane shopping magazines and flight safety cards, resulting in a show that moves freely across media, but always with a sense of pop cultural pranksterism. From individual art objects to video pieces to documentation, the work is designed to simultaneously serve as a record of activity and creative output, while also underscoring important issues concerning copyright, public space, and our offline and online identities.”he exhibition is an archive of an archive, with portraits of various person's daily online activities, a 42 meter long vinyl print with four months of Internet history compressed to a sculpture, laser etchings and the thoughtful little book Since You Were Born, dedicated to the artist's daughter. The book can be read in two opposite ways: as a beautiful story about the relation between a father and his new-born child, and as a reflexion of our intimate relationship with the web.

— Eastern Michigan University Gallery of Art