2012-2013 Colloquium Series

Lina Tegtmeyer (PhD Candidate, Cultural Studies, Freie Universit├Ąt, Berlin) will present, Aesthetics of Failure as Success Narrative? The Image of "Detroit" Between Urban Social Crisis and Iconic Post-Industrial Site

Friday, December 7, 5:00 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley

Tourism as industry can sell the product "city" to potential visitors through place marketing. Success and failure are crucial ideologies in neoliberal image campaigns of place. Today, Detroit has become an iconic city that is best known for its failure. Recent advertisements make use of the underdevelopment (decline, decay) of the city: what is narrated as desolate city "Detroit" suddenly makes use of its negative brand (Herron) to promote its state of crisis as unique and authentically "American". Without official site marking of its state of decay, Detroit's post-industrial ruinscape receives the status of a site, while, visually opposite, official tourism discourse endorses clean pictures of the city that remind of gentrification. At the example of different versions of staging "Detroit" I intend to debate how pictures can change the meaning of a place and possibly the place itself. The point of reference here is the image, not the actual geographical place. In between social documentary and tourism imagery, what cultural meanings of decay/ruins surface in the pictures? And what visual and socio-political discourses about place develop with the change of the city's depiction?

Speaker Bio:
Lina Tegtmeyer, M.A. Northamerican Studies, researches and produces visual representations of urban space. She is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies. Her dissertation addresses visual design of cultural meanings of decay and ruins in image production of cities. Her places of interest are Detroit and the Bronx. She is in her third year of a three-year program at the Graduate School for Northamerican Studies at the Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin. Understanding tourism both as industry and cultural practice as part of contemporary urban development discourse, she is particularly pleased to be able to share her current research with the TSWG.

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