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Review of Exhibition: Urbis DTroit 20 May to 18 July 2004

This exhibition is about the art, music and culture of Detroit USA. The main theme is the catastrophic decline of Detroit, and how an artistic subculture has emerged from within the dereliction. As featured artist Thomas Klepach expresses it: "Detroit is a cracked mirror reflecting the fractured American dream". In the lobby an Urbis-commissioned film by Elliot Eastwick explores the musical commonalities and connections between Manchester and Detroit. Entry to the exhibition is 5 but the film is free.

Both depressing and inspiring, the exhibition gives a tantalising introduction to the plight of Detroit, its artistic flowering and its glorious musical heritage from Motown classics to groundbreaking electronic music of the 80s and 90s. I was shocked by the photos of partly-destroyed buildings including Michigan railroad station, and of the people living in nearby neighbourhoods.

Using the eMac or iPod and headphones to listen to the playlist compiled by Mike Rubin was worth the 5 in itself. Elliot Eastwick's film with archive footage from legendary Northern Soul venue Wigan Casino and interviews with Mike Pickering and Derrick May was compelling. The film and exhibition point the way to a possible Museum of Manchester Music. All in all, a fantastic achievement and a credit to creative director Scott Burnham.

See also my article and playlist The Magic of Manchester

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2004-07-18

Aidan O'RourkeAidan O'Rourke has been active in photography and online media since 1995. He has documented the development of the local area in his Eyewitness website (1997-2005) and as a contributor to books, publications and the Manchester Evening News. He runs his Eyewitness photography walks in Manchester, Liverpool and other locations. He offers one-to-one tuition in Photography and Languages. He is a high-level speaker of German and can offer photography walks and tours through the medium of German. Visit www.aidan.co.uk

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