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March 11, 2004 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-11

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12B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, March 11, 2004

SETH LOWER/daily
Right: Last sum-
mer, fire con-
sumed the Tech
Center, a local
artists' studio in
Ann Arbor.
Far Right:
Goldstein's film
explores the
after-effects of
the fire. The
charred remains
and broken glass
remind others of
the community's
collective loss.

k By Jennie Adler
Daily Arts Writer
People as far as Chelsea and
Dexter may remember seeing the
pluming clouds of smoke from the
mysterious fire last July that
engulfed the Technology Center on
Huron and Third Avenues. But what
people may not remember are the
artists of the 555 Studio in the
Technology Center. Students Yoni
Goldstein and Max Sussman filmed
"Whatever You Destroy," as a lasting
documentation of the once-thriving
artist community.
This film, just like the fire, is
attracting onlookers from afar.
Entered in the Roo~ftop and Lost Film
Festivals, "Whatever You Destroy" is
now receiving the local attention it
deserves at the Ann Arbor Film
Festival next week. As college stu-
dents, the mere acceptance into the
prestigious AAFF is recognition of

the film's quality and Goldstein and
Sussman's talent as filmmakers.
At first glance, "Whatever You
Destroy" appears to be an illuminat-
ing portrayal of the tragic end to the
555 Studio, but the film also makes a
much bolder statement. Looking
closely at the film and hearing the
thoughts and concerns of Goldstein
and Sussman reveal that "Whatever
You Destroy" is bursting with strong
opinions about Ann Arbor's changing
environment.
The idea to first film the 555
Studio was an effort to document the
positive creative energy within the
building. "We were personally
acquainted with the people and the
space and we wanted to get some
lasting record of it before it was
demolished," Goldstein explained.
However, as soon as the shooting
wrapped, only a week later, the entire
city block was in flames. The fire,
while unfortunate for the Technology

Center, was fortunate for Goldstein
and Sussman's film. "We felt like
something was missing (in the film),
some dramatic denouement. (Then
the fire) just happened. It frames the
film but it doesn't really change it,"
Goldstein said. The fire didn't
change the film because the film is
about more than the physical
destruction of a building, he contin-
ued to say.
The studio was not only a place to
work and display art but a home for
many low-income citizens. Before
the fire, all of the residents were
asked to leave because of county liv-
ing violations. What Goldstein and
Sussman really wanted to emphasize
with this film is the importance of
places like the 555 Studio for Ann
Arbor. Sussman believes that "Ann
Arbor is becoming a more popular
city and this brings about certain
changes like higher rent prices and
homogenization of culture. The Tech

Center was the only place were poor
artists could afford to work and live
in the same place. Now it doesn't
exist, and the community that was
supported by that physical space has
diminished as well. The replacement
of the Tech Center with an exercise
center will inevitably make Ann
Arbor a less vibrant and unique place
to live."
If you walk by the old Technology
Center grounds, you can see the
plans of the YMCA exercise center
and Goldstein, who's in agreement
with Sussman adds that places like
the new YMCA building are only
"pushing low-income citizens further
and further out of Ann Arbor."
While the displacement of low-
income citizens is a problem every-
where, it is a particularly important
issue in Ann Arbor to Goldstein as
he is not only a resident but a young
one as well. Goldstein feels that as
more centers like the 555 Studio are

shut down, more conducive, enrich-
ing, youthful environments are leav-
ing: "We have a problem in
Michigan where young people don't
want to stay here - there isn't a
young lifestyle." Though the campus
brings in youth, those who know the
Ann Arbor of years ago have
watched the dwindling of a bohemi-
an environment.
"Whatever You Destroy" tackles all
these important issues through inter-
views with the 555 Studio artists. The
film's message is furthered through
the cinematography and sound. The
various shots of the Technology ;
Center building inspire a somber, pen-
sive mood that makes one think about,
all the buildings in Ann Arbor and
whether or not they contribute to the
community. The sound used is notice-
ably original and noteworthy.
Goldstein's younger brother Ronen
did a large amount of the music on
keyboards. The metallic tunes and
rhythmic beats fit right in with the cre-
ative environment of 555.
"Whatever You Destroy" should
easily stand up to the hundreds of
other films at the festival, for
Goldstein commented about the
fire's irony, "(the artists) have to
inhale art - everything they were
trying to get rid of they were trying
to breathe into them. (Instead of the
community) quietly fading away, the
fire emblazoned the fact that they
were being destroyed - in a dramat-
ic fashion."
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OPEN UNTIL 1 1 PM EVERY DAY
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