3583 Dubois Street, in Detroit, Michigan, no longer exists. While the dilapidated 7,000 square-foot brick apartment building at this location still stands, the city has reassigned its address as 2170 Mack Avenue. It is a subtle change, but one that underscores a metaphoric loss of this place’s history. Like so many in Detroit and cities like it, this abandoned building holds memories waiting to be erased or revived. In his installation, Unit 1: 3583 Dubois, Anders Ruhwald repositions the building’s identity, intertwining its past, present, and future.
The exhibition presents several life-sized rooms and corridors based on a permanent installation that Ruhwald is creating in one apartment of this building, which the artist purchased in 2014 and is actively restoring. Ruhwald is converting the rooms in Unit 1 into abstracted spaces using materials from the building and neighborhood along with his signature ceramic works. Across the installation, fire is a key element that serves as material, process, and subject matter. Something that both consumes and transforms, fire is an ideal vehicle for Ruhwald’s exploration of destruction and renewal. Using charred wood, ash, molten glass, found objects, and black-glazed ceramics, Ruhwald meticulously composes an immersive, richly sensorial experience that is at once dramatic, nostalgic, and uncanny. Like the permanent installation, Unit 1: 3583 Dubois at MOCA Cleveland is both a memorial and a proposal in which materials and forms coalesce to retell (and thus reclaim) the past, animate the present, and suggest a shifted future.
Anders Ruhwald (1974, Randers, Denmark) lives in Detroit. He graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in 2005.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.