Peter Mörtenböck & Helge Mooshammer
research and writings on art, architecture and politics
Borderline Cases, Art Gallery of Windsor, Canada, 2006
March 2008, ISSN: 1860-3211
A trivial shortcut referring to the nature of the designated space of action, ‘Operation Desert’ is a codename readily used by US policies to label military interventions in the Middle East. Closer to home, at the Canadian-US borderland, however, it could be used to describe the urban wastelands left behind by cross-border capitalism and ruthless exploitation of land and human resources. A case in point along the border separating Canada and the United States are the post-industrial cities of Detroit and Windsor. In terms of urban and social prosperity they have both born the brunt of the restructuring of the automotive industry since the 1970s.
This has not just affected the physical richness of the urban space but also the social fabric of ethnic communities that had responded to the demand for workers and formed these spaces through their transnational migrant networks, as has been the case along Wyandotte Street in Windsor, the so-called Lebanese Street. This strip once formed the nucleus of a working class community arriving from the Middle East that has now suffered on the hands of US-capitalism, following the fate of many an American city. Today, Windsor’s city centre has been taken over by the contemporary American border economy of strip clubs, dingy bars and gambling halls. The Mosque and School of Ahlul-Bayt on Wyandotte Street borders upon ‘Adult by Choice’ and ‘Adult Entertainment’, the latter of which offered for rent already again. Their closed doors mark off an urban desert where it is impossible to distinguish between interior and exterior, exception and rule, and legality and illegality.
The border is a divided fiction that, dependent on the desired type of spatial and social organisation, gives rise to a particular material form. It is a place where the forces of production and migration meet in narrow channels, forming a marginalized territory of contested enclaves, buffer zones, military areas, protective strips and no man’s land: an intensified supply and negotiation space of geopolitical warfare.
Mosque & School of Ahlul-Bayt on Wyandotte Street, Windsor
14 March 2008 - New Issue:
MONU #08 - BORDER URBANISM
Magazine on Urbanism
(browse the entire issue #8 on YouTube)
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MONU #05 - BRUTAL URBANISM
'Happy Slapping Urban Violence in the Age of Camera Phones', Monu #05 - Magazine on Urbanism (Brutal Urbanism - Violence and Upheaval in the City), 2006
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