About the Photographer
Object Orange is a group of five anonymous artists who respond to widespread blight in their home city of Detroit, Michigan, by painting abandoned houses bright orange. The project, titled Detroit. Demolition. Disneyland., began with the aim of drawing attention to the social effects of long-term neglect in their city which is beset with financial depression and dotted with more than 11,000 abandoned buildings.
Coating the façade of a single house overnight, Object Orange uses a shade of house paint called “Tiggerific,” which is trademarked by the Disney Corporation and available at most hardware stores. While bright orange is typically used to indicate caution--such as in traffic cones, detour signs, and prison jumpsuits—for Object Orange this color choice amplifies a contrast between the ideal American family home and the harsh realities many face during economic recession. With one third of the housing in Detroit sitting vacant, these houses tend to entice crime, becoming dangerous hubs for drugs and prostitution. The scale of Detroit’s collapse is particularly acute and the city can be seen as an extreme reflection of the broader housing crisis that is still unfolding in the United States. The photographic documents of the homes are the only enduring remnants of the project, evidencing a complex negotiation of resources and power often experienced by communities in economic decline.
Object Orange question the city’s demolition policy for abandoned properties by choosing houses clearly visible to commuters on major roads that neighbors and community members had previously petitioned the local government to demolish, to no avail. Their endeavor became more actively political as the City of Detroit began to quickly raze the buildings after the homes were painted by the artists, thus creating material changes to the city’s landscape. To this end, the group views the project as an open source platform for community engagement and invites others in Detroit and across the country to borrow their methods and take up their cause of unconventional political action.
Object Orange members are known only by their first names: Christian, Jacques, Greg, Mike, and Andy. The group has been featured by GOOD Magazine, Newsweek, The Economist, The Detroiter, and NPR. The photographs have been exhibited throughout the United States, as well as in Vienna, Austria, and Windsor, Canada. The photographs are included in the collections of the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, MI, the University of Michigan Museum of Art and Michigan Union in Ann Arbor, MI, and the Detroit Institute of Art.