Why I, a white man, took a black family’s house from Detroit to Rotterdam
I turned a Detroit house into a work of art for the community to be proud of, and people who think it is ruin porn have missed the point
We took it all the walls, the windows. We took the whole exterior of the house from Stoepel Street 20194, just west of Detroit 8 Mile.
Cutting a house into pieces was something I was new to. I had come to work ill-prepared, in worn-out sneakers, and kept slipping precariously on the roof tiles. People watched me from the street below as I pulled off the asphalt shingles. Some asked me why I, a white man, was taking a black familys house.
When I started on this project, my thoughts were clear. I wanted to bring a house back to Europe from America. When I arrived in Detroit in March 2015 I realised that this city in the country I had left in 1992 out of distaste for its nationalistic, isolationist, police-dog mentality and its privatised prison system, along with its thick dictionary of rules and tax codes and its ingratiating political correctness had, aside from the positive developments that were mostly in the downtown area, begun to look like a war zone. I drove around the Detroit 8 Mile area for weeks, looking at the abandoned houses, learning catchphrases such as ruin porn and poverty tourism, and about the governments plan to encourage people to lead agricultural lifestyles as houses were demolished to give way to arable land.