Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rust Belt Development Paradigm

Pejorative or emblem of pride? The term "Rust Belt" cuts both ways. Art as a medium for the debate:

Upon entering the Out of Fashion exhibit currently on display at the Southeastern Center for Contem- porary Art, the first set of objects that catches the viewer’s eye is Gabrielle Duggan’s “Spectrum,” a commentary on “the ideals and values embedded in one’s sense of fashion,” according to exhibit curator Steven Matijcio.

Duggan, a Buffalo native who now resides in Raleigh, pays homage to her experience growing up in the Rust Belt of upstate New York by arranging mannequins wearing garments comprised of various combinations of alpaca, wool, cotton, hemp, and Tussah silk.

The eight garments reflect degrees of protection and vulnerability and challenge the viewer to decide if Duggan’s arrangement reflects progress or regress.

“Playing upon our inherent tendency to rank the individual components of a line-up, Duggan creates a multi-dimensional spectrum of materials, techniques and utility that remains open to interpretation,” Matijcio states. “Which direction represents upgrade is left for the viewer to decide.”

Emphasis added. Blight or opportunity? Ruin porn or art? Shrinking or developing? The Rust Belt is a paradox.

We may cling to and valorize a blue collar ethos. In that sense, Rust Belt is a pejorative. The progressive Rust Belt mentality is one of seeing the benefits of brain drain. Brownfields are the new greenfields. Rank away, Newsweek.

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