Fire Break
Detroit, MI (2001 - present)

As a “fire-break” stops or redirects the spread of fire, this act does not erase history, but perhaps redirects its future.

Presently we have completed six houses. The city has, without our knowledge, demolished each of these houses. We do not see our installations as precious, but instead mercenary acts that attempt to alter neighborhood perceptions. In other words, the neighborhood has been trying for years to have these houses removed. Following the installations, they were demolished within weeks.

Click a project below for more information:

    • Completed: 2001

      The inside of the burned house on 1993 Superior Street was filled with musicians from the local neighborhood. Exhibit visitors were able to listen to the house from the outside, but were unable to clearly view into the interior.
    • Completed: 2001

      Detroit residents have transformed old “crack houses” into “hay houses” (bundles of hay are stored inside of the houses). This installation draws on this notion of urban farming by covering a house with 5,000 small bundles of hay. Before the Hay House event, the miniature bundles of hay were made by the Design Center and neighborhood participants.
    • Completed: 2004

      The entire exterior of a burned house on the west side of Detroit was wrapped in a clear plastic body-bag.
    • Completed: 2008

      A burned house on the west side of Detroit was surveyed and a grid of stakes were placed throughout the site from property line to property line. At each point on the grid a specimen was catalogued (location, description, height above/below ground line) and collected into vials (1/4” cylinder x 2.5” in height).

      The vials were placed in a box made from the wood of the burned house. The box was sized in proportion of the property lines. The vials were placed in the box corresponding to their location on the site. The house is being demolished by a local community development organization and a new house is being built. The Box with Vials will be given to the new owner by the community organization.
    • Completed: 2008

      The intent of this project was to fabricate and construct, with community residents, an installation in and around a burned house on Martin Street. What motivated this project was the desire to bring people in the neighborhood together, and to transform a distinct blight on the landscape into a community asset.