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.
A few weeks ago, artists of different generations and pursuits gathered in Istanbul for the Istanbul International Arts & Culture Festival (IST.), a weekend of free conversations and art exhibits—the stuff that brings together luminaries from fields as diverse as architecture, literature, and millinery.
Once a small series of workshops, IST. is now an international affair; past guests include Zaha Hadid, Gore Vidal, and Courtney Love. And if this fifth annual event proved anything, it’s that the art scene in this timeless city is fresher than ever.
Several years ago, while walking home from a Little Caesars in southwest Miami, I came across a headless chicken, drained of its blood and abandoned in the middle of the street. I later learned that the bird was sacrificed in a Santeria ritual (its placement in the intersection was a suburban approximation of the crossroads: the portal between worlds). The encounter provided further evidence of something I learned the moment I moved to the country’s largest Caribbean city—and kept learning until I left. The tropics will reveal themselves to you, but without warning or explanation.
This was on my mind last month when I visited another Caribbean capital, New Orleans, to make sense of another street scene. Four years in the making, EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean, an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center, presents Carnival—dance, music, costuming; all of the inhaled and exhaled culture of the Caribbean and its leaky diaspora—in the context of contemporary art.
On the morning of November 2, 1979, a gold BMW pulled up behind a blue truck stopped at a stoplight in Porte de Clignancourt, in northern Paris. After a moment, a tarp covering the back of the truck opened to reveal four men with rifles. They opened fire in unison, blasting holes into the windshield. The man driving the BMW was hit fifteen times; the woman in the passenger seat was blinded and crippled by the attack. Her pet poodle died, too. And that was the end of Jacques Mesrine, France’s public enemy number one.