The Beehive Project is a large-scale installation by an interdisciplinary community of artists and thinkers in Detroit. The group’s inaugural project, a human-sized beehive sculpture, will function as a gathering space for informal, critical conversation during the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (May 29-31, 2010). The beehive serves as a metaphor for the city of Detroit by referencing the hive as a valuable model for community and collaborative, creative production.
Historically, beehives have been associated with local industry, diverse cooperation, and fierce resourcefulness. Honey, a colony’s primary creative product, often references a yearning for sweetness, restoration of health, and rebirth. The beehive is also a particularly poignant metaphor because of the recent phenomenon of colony collapse disorder (CCD) affecting hives throughout North America and other parts of the world. CCD occurs when workers bees from a beehive abruptly disappear, leaving the colony without enough workers to continue functioning. By paralleling this trend with the steady depopulation and deindustrialization of Detroit over the past 50 years, we hope to honestly portray Detroit’s distressed economic and social situation while still looking to the beehive as a metaphor for the strength of city’s community-based development, interdisciplinary collaboration, and resourceful artistic production.
The beehive sculpture, which is constructed primarily from salvaged wood and donated fabrics, is 12-feet in diameter and is filled with comfortable seating structures, a conference table, and a small library of books about Detroit. The sculpture will also serve as a distribution site for a publication featuring a contemporary re-imagining of Vergil’s Georgics IV, a classical poem on beekeeping. The collaborative team hopes that the intimate yet thought-provoking qualities of the sculptural environment create a space for relationship and informal conversation about the history, present experience, and trajectory of Detroit. They are interested in inviting festival-goers and performers into critical conversations about the cultural, social, and economic conditions of the city that allow them to experience and re-envision the urgent social engagement and vital creative production occurring within the city.
The Beehive Project was facilitated by Vanessa Miller and Kate Daughdrill in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of artists and thinkers from Detroit.
Amanda Le Claire