Fate of the Machinery

The Fate of the Machinery
My family owned an industrial auction business from 1951-2002, liquidating the assets of factories, in towns across the US facing plant closures amidst a wave of runaway shops, mergers and acquisitions and corporate conglomeration. Every week, their company, Norman Levy Associates, would place Sunday advertisements in the Detroit News/Detroit Free Press for upcoming auctions. The installation combines these many ads into a personal meditation and contemplative memorial that challenges nostalgia on what it means to be a middleman in macroeconomic systems that benefits few while exploiting communities across the globe.

Fate of the Machinery exists in iterations. In the first installation was in 2015 at 9338 Campau Gallery in Detroit, during which I also presented a scroll, combining transcripts from my family’s various conversations about class, race, segregation and deindustrialization, photographs and ephemera. Hung as a draft on the gallery wall across from the ephemera installation, visitors were invited to write thoughts and interventions directly on the manuscript. The installation also featured a conversation series about topics connected to the economics of deindustrialization.

The second installation will take place at Saginaw Valley State University in 2023, and explores the impact of industrialization and deindustrialization on bodies, the transition from an industrial to an illness economy and the contrasting experiences of aging across race and class, including that of my own family. The project also contains an ongoing series of photographs of former auction sites.

Fate of the Machinery Installation Detail at 9338 Campau, 2015

“Lot Tags,” Fate of the Machinery Installation Detail at Saginaw Valley State University, 2023. “Lot Tags” is based on how machinery is categorized at industrial auctions. When an auction sale is conducted, each item is tagged and sold as a “lot.” The quotes on the back of each lot tag are drawn from oral histories of former factory workers.

From “10 Days: Art, Collective Responsibility and Struggle for a Just Economy” with Detroit Jews for Justice, September 2015

Elder Care Facilities and Former Factories around Saginaw, MI, 2023, silent video projection

Joe Louis Arena/Grandmom in Hawaii, 2016

Fate of the Machinery Installation Detail at 9338 Campau, 2015

Fate of the Machinery Installation Detail at 9338 Campau, 2015

Detail of “Lot Tags” installation; etched steel tags

Fate of the Machinery Scroll Detail, 2015

Grandmom Home Alone, 2016

Factory Workers and Health Care Workers, 2023, ambient audio loop comprised of interviews with individuals who have worked in factories, health care facilities or both. Interviewees: Janie Irvine, Jerry Gerardo, Mark Simms and Rosyln Walker
Special thanks to the SEIU Michigan.