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FILTER Detroit

posted Jan 27, 2013, 4:11 PM by Kendall Moyer
[6] The FILTER Detroit House

In 2009, artist Mitch Cope and his wife, two Detroiters who live in a working-class neighborhood, realized they wanted to do something different in their neighborhood.  The neighborhood used to be a safe place, but foreclosures brought crime to the area.  They decided to buy a foreclosed house for $1,900 with the intent to turn it into a community art center.  They hoped the space could “stabilize the neighborhood”.  Shortly after, the couple was flooded with emails and calls requesting interviews and asking if they needed help.  The Cope’s decided to post on their website “Yes, there’s space available, it’s not just on our block, it’s city wide. Detroit’s a really unique city, and it’s both amazing and really tough. So sure, come visit and decide for yourself.”  This attracted artists from around the world to come to Detroit to check out the art scene and buy foreclosed homes [1]. 

            Kerstin Niemann, a museum curator from the Netherlands, bought a foreclosed house for $3,500 [1].  Niemann is the founder of FILTER, which is a “platform for international contemporary art” [2].  She extended her work to Detroit by setting up space in her house for one or two artists to stay at while working in Detroit, and that is when FILTER Detroit was established.  Any kind of artist can apply to stay at FILTER Detroit as long as he or she is creative and has an interest in Detroit [1].  Along with being a place to house artists, the project is a “living archive”, where residents compile research about the social and artistic movements in Detroit [2].  One focus of the research is to explore the “colonial approach” of redeveloping Detroit and to find alternative methods to transform the city [3].

            In 2010, eight Ph.D. students from Bauhaus University, in Germany, stayed in the FILTER Detroit house.  They came for ten days to learn about the community with the hope of contributing to Detroit’s comeback.  The research they conducted was used by the College of Creative Studies to respond to the needs of the community through a project.  This was a unique opportunity, possible due to FILTER Detroit and Niemann, for students in Detroit to connect with students from other cultures, who have different views of life [4].  From this collaboration, FILTER Detroit, a book showcasing developments in the community, was published [5].

[5] The published archive of work

            FILTER Detroit, a project fueled by foreclosures and art, has grown to be a community of artists and research.  The project has brought publicity and people of different cultures to Detroit.  The community was brought together with the goal of creating an archive about Detroit.  The project is continually evolving, and with the publishing of the first volume of FILTER Detroit, the next should be soon to follow.


[1] http://facingthemortgagecrisis.org/?p=709

[2] http://www.filter-hamburg.com/en/impressum/

[3] http://cityunseen.wordpress.com/filter-detroit/

[4] http://detroitdataguru.wordpress.com/2010/06/

[5] http://halfletterpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_4&products_id=243

[6] http://detroitdataguru.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/the-world-is-knocking-at-detroits-front-door/house-on-moran/