Trevor Paglen shines a light on the shadowy confluence of technological innovation and state misconduct. Whether by photographing secret military installations from afar, or by parsing official documents to identify telling omissions, the aim is to see that which has been purposefully obscured in hopes that visualization leads to consideration. Having grown up on military bases (his father was an Air Force ophthalmologist) before coming of age in the Bay Area punk scene in the ’90s, Paglen is now based in Berlin. We met several times this May at the Istanbul International Arts and Culture Festival, where he had just spoken about a new body of work (on view at Metro Pictures from September 10 – October 24).
On an August afternoon in Detroit’s Banglatown—so named for the sizable Bangladeshi population—artists, designers, and property developers gathered in the garden of Kate Daughdrill’s Burnside Farm, plucking spring rolls from a picnic table made of beams salvaged from the burnt-out home next door. The lunch included a planning discussion for the third edition of Culture Lab Detroit, an annual design and urbanism symposium happening next month. It was business as usual for Daughdrill, who operates Burnside Farm out of her home and garden. Purchased for $600 in 2011, the house is just one of the many instances of artists and activists who’ve approached the desolation of the Motor City as a blank canvas.