Artists seek to inspire, highlight housing crisis with abandoned Detroit home encased in ice


Artists seek to inspire, highlight housing crisis with abandoned Detroit home encased in ice
Tue Feb 2, 4:19 PM

By David Runk, The Associated Press

DETROIT – Two artists who have encased one of Detroit’s thousands of abandoned homes in ice are hoping their effort inspires and helps draw attention to the housing crisis that has battered the nation.

The two-story house and its boarded-up, broken windows have been covered with sheets of ice that glow in the sunlight, and icicles reach from the edges of the roof almost to the ground.

The steps, porch and shrubs that glisten with ice in the rundown neighbourhood are part of the Ice House Detroit project. Its creators want to what’s possible in a city with tens of thousands of vacant homes and a foreclosure rate among the nation’s highest.

“This gives them an opportunity to see something different in their neighbourhood,” said Gregory Holm, a New York-based photographer who grew up in Detroit. “It’s not saying it’s going to change afterward. But it’s a gift.”

Holm and Matthew Radune, a New York architect, have spent weeks in the often bitter cold spraying water onto the abandoned home.

The artists picked the house, which had been slated for demolition, from the state’s land bank. In return, they agreed to pay the back taxes on another foreclosed house so that a Detroit woman could move in.

This spring, the house will be dismantled so the building materials can be reused.

Radune and Holm plan to illuminate their creation and film it Friday, then make the location public Sunday. Some Detroit residents have already had a peek. Every few minutes, passers-by stop to snap pictures.

“It’s amazing,” said Jeff Taylor, 43, of Detroit, who was driving down the street. “I had to stop and see what happened.” He added: “It’s beautiful.”

Freezing the house wasn’t easy. Even with temperatures in the teens, ice melted when the sun came out. First, the artists tried using rooftop sprinklers, but those froze. They ended up using a system of hoses to spray the house with water from hydrants.

“This has been a real test of the will,” Holm said.

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