The Rapidian

Urbanity exhibit provides thought-provoking analysis of city life

Urbanity, the UICA's current exhibit, displays a variety of pieces that discuss the themes that accompany urban settings.
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See the Exhibit

Urbanity runs until July 5, at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.

To mark its 35th anniversary, the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art's (UICA) current exhibit, Urbanity, examines the implications of living within a modern urban setting. Through pieces whose media range from traditional painting and photography to sculptures and installations, the exhibit discusses the effects of being constantly surrounded, either by other people or by the structures that form the city itself, and of having one's senses be constantly impacted by bustling and populated surroundings. The participating artists call on the observer to engage with a variety of perspectives regarding life within an urban setting.

While one piece contemplates the lack of personal space within the urban setting and what people would be willing to do to obtain even ten minutes to themselves while going about their daily activities, others examine the structures that comprise the city itself, and what occurs when the structures fall into disuse.

"What happens when a space that was active becomes inactive?" is how one of the participating artists, Emily Duke, articulated the concept mentioned above. This theme is examined in a few pieces throughout the show. In addition to Emily Duke's sculptures, it is among the many themes present within Scott Hocking's documentation of the installations he constructed within abandoned buildings in Detroit. His photography shows not only his structures' eventual deconstruction and deterioration, but that of the buildings that housed them as well.

Another piece along this same vein is Michael's Beitz's sculpture of a couch that has been broken down and tied into a knot. The piece is a commentary on what occurs when a family is forced to vacate their house, by taking a piece of furniture that can so often represent a family's time spent together and twisting it until its traditional utility is completely removed.

Other pieces throughout the gallery embody a more personal take on living within an urban setting by examining whether the people who populate a city would rather be alone or feel like they are a part of a larger community, while another still expands on that by discussing the possibility of feeling alone even when one is surrounded by, and is a part of, a densely populated area. These pieces, combined with others that comment on the more physical barriers with which we as a population interact more or less unconsciously (traffic cones, for example), provide thought-provoking commentary on personal experience of the a city's occupants, while simultaneously complicating it.

Urbanity runs until July 5, and by combining a multitude of themes that all apply to the same setting and experience, the exhibit presents a well-rounded depiction of and commentary on the modern city landscape and the experiences that occur within it.

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The different psychological effects of Urban living that are mentioned are interesting.  The feeling of being alone in the crowd, for example.  I'm glad you mentioned the Scott Hocking exhibit.  I thought his artist presentation a month or so ago was fantastic.  Thanks for the reminder that I need to get down to UICA and see this.