Heartfelt Tribute to a Hip Hop Legend Brings Together a Tale of Two Cities
During the vernissage held on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, for the photo exhibition As Serious as Your Life: A Tone Poem for Dilla: From Conant Gardens curated by Torrance Gettrell and photographed by Los Angeles based duo Mochilla, the Product 81/Creative Lab served as more than just a viewing place. Decorated with images displaying Detroit’s urban landscape and portraits emblematic of a style of hip hop photography that reflects the consciousness behind the music, the Fordista fueled Creative Lab provided an opportunity to reflect upon the meaning of home for the I/eye that inhabits, engages with and transcends this space. As part of the larger collaboration with Butter Gallery, Mi casa es su casa, the exhibition itself allowed for the encounter between two cities, Miami and Detroit - the photographic tribute to the life and legacy of the late J Dilla being the meeting point between the two.
Among the photographs displayed, one in particular stood out, revealing an interesting historical thread – the presence and influence of the Ford Motor Company - pointing to an interesting juxtaposition of the two communities. In the center of a gated plot of land littered with plastic debris around its edges and surrounded by trees made barren by winter, a sign stands designating Conant Gardens, the neighborhood where J Dilla grew up, as a historic site. Although originally designed as a community for white-collar employees of the Ford Motor Company, the neighborhood would eventually become a reflection of black settlement in Detroit’s northeast side after World War I. J Dilla’s father was himself employed by Ford after a long career as a professional musician. Housed in a creative space carved out by South Florida Ford on the edge of Wynwood’s Art District, an area at the crossroads of contemporary culture and dynamic urban revitalization connecting a local multicultural community with a more transitory international one attracted by Art Basel, the photographic tribute, As Serious as Your life: A Tone Poem for Dilla: From Conant Gardens, is a testament to hip hop’s global reach as well as to its resonance with all cultures.
by Catalina Ramirez [Culture Designers]