Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center is a large-scale installation that explores how we finance our living environments. On view June 20 through September 27, 2009 at the Queens Museum of Art in surreal Flushing Meadows–Corona Park.
Architectures of finance from the Great Depression to the Subprime Meltdown
An exhibition by Damon Rich
A project of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies and the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP)
Organized for the MIT Museum Compton Gallery by Laura Knott, Don Stidsen and Gary Van Zante
The American preference for traditional residential design masks a frightening reality: across the globe, individual buildings have been retrofitted to serve as interchangeable nodes in a vast abstract structure, held loosely together by legal and political restraints, made to allow the furious circulation of finance capital.
An installation of models, photographs, videos, and drawings, Red Linesimmerses visitors in a landscape of pulsing capital and liquidated buildings, exploring the relation between finance and architecture.
During a year-long residence at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, designer Damon Rich, founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), surveyed the darkening realm of real estate markets: foreclosures, pro-formas, chains of title, block busting, exploding ARMs, and the obscure history of the mortgage, Old French for death vow.
In the resulting installation, the head of Frederick Babcock, pioneer appraiser, gazes over a scattered field of diminished Detroit houses, still showing damage from 1960s real estate scandals. Looming behind Babcock, the flicker of a neon sign – BUY LOW SELL HIGH – reveals the spikes and troughs of a wall cut by the 20th century’s prime rate, the sharp line between lenders and borrowers. Projected videos haunt the gallery with the apparitions of financial engineers, federal regulators, and anti-foreclosure activists.
Today, what has become known as the Subprime Meltdown continues to spread, pushing people out of homes, wasting neighborhoods, bankrupting institutions, and threatening global economic crisis. Red Lines aims to broaden and enrich the urgent conversation about how our society finances its living environments.
“The city is not merely a physical mechanism and an artificial construction. It is involved in the vital processes of the people who compose it; it is a product of nature, and particularly of human nature.”
–Robert Park, The City: Suggestions for the Investigation of Human Behavior in the Urban Environment, 1925
“In the future, cities will become deserts, roads will become battlefields…”
–The Road Warrior, 1981
Eleven Canadian teenagers and six adults work for five days to create a proposal for the redesign of the buildings and grounds of the museum for the year 3000: models, drawings, the Rules and Rights of the Year 3000, and full-scale mock-up shelters. Nov 17–Nov 21, 2008.
Collaboration with Anne-Claire Richard, Assistant Curator for Educational Services, CCA.