Fate of the Machinery

Fate of the Machinery explores the complicated process of using family wealth to change the systems from which one benefits. It consists of an installation of three components: archival ephemera, a publication, and videos.

The ephemera installation component exposes my own family’s accumulation of wealth. My family owned an industrial auction business from 1951-2002, liquidating the assets of factories, in towns across the US facing plant closures. Their work thrived as a result of waves 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. In 2014, I systematically went through every Detroit Free Press/Detroit News issue on microfilm, isolating and capturing every ad the company placed from 1951 through my birth in 1984.

The installation functions as a contemplative memorial and personal meditation on what it means to be a middleman in the vast transfer of wealth. During the installation, I offered a space for people to record instances where their own family has been affected by a plant closure, or how their own family directly or indirectly benefited from the job loss of others.

The manuscript component combines family photographs, various ephemera transcripts from conversations about class, race, segregation and deindustrialization with my family. 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.