detroit

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Potential Trust, 2012–14, neon on wood panel, 37 1/2 × 60".

Esther Shalev-Gerz

Wasserman Projects

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Potential Trust, 2012–14, neon on wood panel, 37 1/2 × 60".

Walter Benjamin never visited Detroit, but his thinking is applicable to the city’s contemporary condition. The critic’s melancholic fixation on ruins—as well as his desire to unearth revolutionary possibilities in frozen moments of time—resonates with this postindustrial metropolis as it struggles to rebuild itself. The Motor City is, thus, an apt site for a survey of Esther Shalev-Gerz’s work, which seems permeated with concepts drawn from German philosophy. “Space Between Time” brought together a selection of work produced between 1998 and 2016, including some of the artist’s best-known projects. A philosophical meditation on power, labor, knowledge, and history, the show pointed to the fragility of human endeavor and, like Benjamin’s seminal essay “On the Concept of History,” to the liberatory potential of the obsolete.

Shown in their current context, Shalev-Gerz’s

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