Red Lines, Death Vows, Foreclosures, Risk Structures: Roundtable on Mortgage Crisis
The American preference for traditional residential design masks a frightening reality: across the globe, individual buildings have been retrofitted to serve as interchangeable nodes in a vast abstract structure, held loosely together by legal and political restraints, made to allow the furious circulation of finance capital.
An installation of models, photographs, videos, and drawings by artist-designer Damon Rich, Red Lines immerses visitors in a landscape of pulsing capital and liquidated buildings, exploring the relation between finance and architecture.
During a year-long residence at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Rich, founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), surveyed the darkening realm of real estate markets: foreclosures, pro-formas, chains of title, block busting, exploding ARMs, and the obscure history of the mortgage, Old French for death vow.
In the resulting installation, the head of Frederick Babcock, pioneer appraiser, gazes over a scattered field of diminished Detroit houses, still showing damage from 1960s real estate scandals. Looming behind Babcock, the flicker of a neon sign – BUY LOW SELL HIGH – reveals the spikes and troughs of a wall cut by the 20th century’s prime rate, the sharp line between lenders and borrowers. Projected videos haunt the gallery with the apparitions of financial engineers, federal regulators, and anti-foreclosure activists.
Today, what has become known as the Subprime Meltdown continues to spread, pushing people out of homes, wasting neighborhoods, bankrupting institutions, and threatening global economic crisis. Red Lines aims to broaden and enrich the urgent conversation about how our society finances its living environments.