The Packard Plant is coming undone. It’s been coming undone – sometimes feverishly, sometimes with glacial resolve – for half a century, and its ruination is revelatory. Like the accelerated desiccation of an ill-fated caribou in time lapse, it states the inevitable: Time is remorseless. But unlike the naturalized allegory of decomposition, the Packard is dissolving according to its own strange logics – or contingent mishaps – that render the behemoth paradigmatically contemporary. In its primitive claims toward utopian productivity coupled with its utter industrial uselessness, the Packard has emerged as one of the most compelling markers of our time. A monument to itself, reveling in its own iconography, the Packard fabricates desire and spurs the scenographic transcription of its dereliction. Some think that’s naughty.
MY LOVE FOR YOU BURNS ALL THE TIME transforms the Packard Plant, Detroit’s notorious post-industrial behemoth, into a series of silver-plated fragments of a monument in miniature. Let’s call it Pirnanesian bling. Measured, documented, reconstructed instances suspend the ever-shifting site into a series of precisely scaled replicas of ruination. Some focus on the buildings’ acclaimed iconography: the water tower, the Grand Boulevard bridge. Others preserve unexceptional examples of architectural obsolescence: a reinforced column, a typical façade, an elevator shaft. Suspension here is a devise in the production of fetish-worthy fantasy, allowing an interminable return to an image of degradation that no longer exists in the material world. The copy, consequently, is rendered more auratic, more titillating.
Like a vegetal landscape, the Packard Plant is in motion. Human mediation, both authorized and illicit, has led to a rapid and spectacular transformation of the industrial complex. Its current state, an untethered terrain, resists all architectural and urban conventions. The property title, along with accountability, has been lost and contested. The alleged owner vows imminent demolition. Scrappers have sacked the buildings indiscriminately, allowing portions of the concrete structure to teeter tenuously on exposed steel rods. This metal harvest, performed by hand and using portable cutting tools, has ignited innumerable fires. The blazes, varied in scale and intensity, burn all the time.MY LOVE FOR YOU BURNS ALL THE TIME is supported with funding from Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning