imPERFECT CITY, an exhibition at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, endeavored to create the conditions for full audience engagement while acknowledging the limits of this utopian goal. The visitor was invited to become a citizen of imPERFECT CITY in the gallery, interfacing with, and helping to decide the nature and future of the community.
Finley + Muse responded to this curatorial premise with their work, Imperfect City/Imperfect State by moving a feature of the Wilmington community -- its roadside vernacular memorials -- into the museum and moving the museum community throughout the state by visiting and engaging with memorial culture.
In 2006 the state of Delaware outlawed roadside vernacular memorials. In their place, the state created an official Highway Memorial Garden at the Smyrna Rest Area 36 miles south of Wilmington. While a noble effort to offer common grounds to families, the garden severs the link between place and event. Finley + Muse offers an opportunity to engage with memorial culture and maintain this link in the following ways.
- Photographing and recording the audio landscape of over 70 roadside memorials in the state of Delaware. Placing all photographs on Panoramio and Google Maps at the precice gps coordinates, thus ensuring their connection to site.
- Creating a slide-show of the photographs with the audio recordings of the site for the gallery.
- Creating an invitation for each memorial photographed given to gallery viewers to visit the memorial and send back comments and photographs
- Creating a map of all the sites in the gallery.
- Leaving our card, with our number to inform the person who tends the memorial that the invitation to consider that site has been accepted by us, and we have participated in the site in the above ways.
- Sending photographs and recording conversations with any person who has created a memorial who has contacted us.
Finley + Muse worked with the community to create a place in imPERFECT CITY that allows the participant to reflect upon unexpected loss and both personal and cultural means of memorializing loss.
Recording the audio landscape
Singing at the memorial
Putting the images on google maps.
Comparing the street view image, some of which have a memorial and some don’t because they were street viewed before the accident
Place both images together.
Creating in the gallery a map of all the sites with the route, creating slide show of the route with the audio landscape of each site and with the songs we sing.
Editing a film from these materials.
Like threshold, where does the site of the work exist?
Allowing a space for collective memorial is a means of understanding and reconciling with loss. In a utopia, this space would be tied to site and serve for healing and renewal.
imPERFECT CITY, endeavors to create the conditions for audience engagement while acknowledging the limits of its seemingly utopian goal to achieve full visitor participation. The visitor is invited to become a citizen of imPERFECT CITY by attending the DCCA for utopian conversation, interfacing with the people involved, and helping to decide the nature and future of this community.
Description of IC:
imPERFECT CITY is a discursive, durational process for generating community within the museum that ultimately directs its gaze to long-term, local civic engagement. Based upon the principle of radical participation, the project hinges upon visitor-generated content and institutional transparency, and calls attention to the act of curating itself as a medium for activism and social practice.
An example of curating beyond traditional exhibition-making, imPERFECT CITY is designed to advance the field of curatorial discourse surrounding contemporary art and cultural production. As a model, it is based upon critical theory and knowledge-generation through an improvisatory process of visitor collaboration and grassroots self-organization.