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A Composition for Detroit

Sara VanDerBeek

Photography

A Composition for Detroit is a portrait of contemporary America. Inspired by many trips to Detroit and its banks of broken factory windows, some overpainted, Sara VanDerBeek built structures that functioned as supports for leaning panes of glass and a wide range of photographic imagery. She then photographed her ephemeral installations before dismantling them. The photographic material includes close-ups of images such as, in the first panel, a Walker Evans photograph of the ruins of a pre–Civil War plantation in Louisiana and a Charles Moore picture of a crouching woman, sprayed with water, during a 1963 civil rights protest. VanDerBeek also used documentary material, some dealing with riots in Detroit in 1967, as well as her own evocative photographs of abandoned buildings and broken blinds. The photographs contribute to the subtle telling of stories that move from left to right across the four panels, or from back to front within each panel. According to the artist, the allusions to windows, stairs, and doorways in all the panels open up the possibility of either staying where we are or taking off in new directions.
MEDIUM Chromogenic photographs
DATES 2009
DIMENSIONS a: 65 x 48 in. (165.1 x 121.9 cm) b: 65 x 43 1/2 in. (165.1 x 110.5 cm) c: 65 x 48 in. (165.1 x 121.9 cm) d: 65 x 47 1/2 in. (165.1 x 120.7 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Photography
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 2010.32a-d
CREDIT LINE Gift of the Contemporary Art Council
RIGHTS STATEMENT © Sara VanDerBeek. Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures
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CAPTION Sara VanDerBeek (American, born 1976). A Composition for Detroit, 2009. Chromogenic photographs, a: 65 x 48 in. (165.1 x 121.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Contemporary Art Council, 2010.32a-d. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2010.32a-d_composite_PS6.jpg)
IMAGE overall, composite, 2010.32a-d_composite_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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Sara VanDerBeek (American, born 1976). <em>A Composition for Detroit</em>, 2009. Chromogenic photographs, a: 65 x 48 in. (165.1 x 121.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Contemporary Art Council, 2010.32a-d. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2010.32a-d_composite_PS6.jpg)