Danielle Dean’s solo exhibition, True Red Ruin

Feb 02, 2018 to Apr 15, 2018

12:00 PM

MOCAD, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit



Danielle Dean’s solo exhibition, True Red Ruin, presents a contemporary story of gentrification and surveillance through a displacement of the historic Elmina Castle in Ghana. The oldest European fort in sub-Saharan Africa, the castle was shipped to the West African coast in pre-fabricated parts from Portugal in 1482, its construction destroying village homes and signaling the fatal encroachment of European powers in Africa. By the seventeenth century, the castle’s purpose had shifted from a gold trading post to a major port of the Atlantic slave trade. Dean’s two-channel video installation explores the postcolonial implications of this history.

The video True Red Ruin (Elmina Castle) takes place in present-day Cuney Homes, an affordable housing complex in Houston’s Third Ward. Dean plays the site manager of a new “Elmina Castle” development amid the existing Cuney Homes, while the artist’s sister and friends (who live in Cuney Homes) play the local residents. In recent years, the historically black Third Ward has experienced rapid gentrification as waves of “economic improvement” have displaced long-term community members. Alluding to historical conditions of Elmina Castle’s construction within this urban American context, Dean creates a fiction pointing to profound truths about histories of invasion and tools of oppression, including capital and surveillance.