“This boundary stream, that mound, the scattered vestigial enclaves and their speech forms, the lime-washed sacral enclosures; so far by means as fragile, vulnerable and scarcely tangible, these the elusive things of the world have, in a tattered fragmentary sort of way, been tabernacled for us.” —David Jones

Leon Johnson, Justin Novak, Ksenya Samarskaya and Detroit Emergent Futures Lab present


...A conversation between Leon Johnson and Justin Novak at The Grolier Club in New York at the close of 2011. On the occasion of the remarkable exhibition, Printing for Kingdom, Empire, & Republic: Treasures from the Archives of the Imprimerie Nationale… There began a speculation of “the siege” as a seminal model in the founding of Detroit, and, for all that is to come—urban design as masonic code, the race riots of 1863, 1943 and 1967, Fordism and its well-oiled machines and the factory floor All the way to gated communities, country clubs and home shopping networks... Together with designer and typographer Ksenya Samarskaya, a plan for a series of dinners that might allow for a meditation on these origins.

A sequence of three meals, Siege traces the original footprint of the city and offers it as a sustained allegory. The dinners bring together a culinary history drawn from the ribbon farms with formal echoes of the fortification of occupied land, tactical posture, and the ethos of retrenchment, withdrawal and attrition. Detroit, originally sited at Fort Ponchartrain, then relocated to Fort Shelby, witnessed three historical sieges over the span of a century. This year marks the 300th anniversary of the first siege, the 200th of the last. At table, within and without.

Detroit Emergent Futures Lab presents three dinners at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit on March 6, 7 and 8th at 7 pm. The project features custom stoneware table settings by Justin Novak, glass lighting systems, carafes and wine glasses by Catie Newell, table fabrics by Anca Trandafirescu, and Tokyo cold-pour coffee by Anthology. A book of the project is in preparation, designed by Ksenya Samarskaya, to be published at Signal-Return Press, Detroit.

Each dinner seats just 12 guests for a meal sourced, foraged and grown locally—prepared by Leon Johnson.
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

Photographs by Miranda Clark for Creative Material Group 2012.

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