Performing an Archive continues Suzy Lake’s exploration and questioning of social issues and identity. Drawing from research into her historical and familial ancestry, Lake bears witness—literally and figuratively—to the cycle of urban, demographic, and social development of working class Detroit. The city was marked in the 20th century by an economic boom, but in recent years has suffered from a striking decline with dramatic population shifts and racial tension. Through her documented performance, Lake visited locations in Detroit where her family members lived during the mid-19th century and up to the 1920s. The resulting photographic works show the artist documenting these often decrepit locations and their surroundings. Lake emphasizes that recent revitalization efforts have gone beyond the Detroit business core: “the garbage and street litter in working class neighbourhoods are gone, indicative of hope and the critical role of community effort in development and urban planning.”
This work was developed in 2014 through a Canadian Residency program in Detroit. The accompanying artist book was produced through Lake’s Dazibao Prize (Montreal), awarded in 2013.
The principle exhibition of this new body of work, Performing an Archive, is on view at the McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, Ontario from May 5 to August 20, 2016 and will travel to the Art Gallery of Windsor in winter 2017.
Organized with Dr. Ihor Holubizky, Senior Curator at McMaster Museum of Art