Houston is the ephemeral city. A certain space might buzz with activity one moment and be deserted the next. Schools become churches, parking lots become museums, streets become streams. In the past, people here have built what they wanted and demolished what was deemed unprofitable under capitalism. This remains unchanged today. Impressive transformations are underway and historic structures vanish—or at least exist in the shadow of the wrecking ball.
Just as Manfredo Tafuri provocatively declared that “there is no criticism, only history,” by default every photograph is an image of the past. Pictures of our city prove to be more durable than the city itself. In part Cite is a place where Houston is assessed with words: What does it look like? What might it mean? Who benefits and who profits? But in our hypervisual world, images are also essential—"pics or it didn't happen," as they say. Often just making visible what is happening is enough to encourage the formation of public opinion.
This series does just that. While other items might invite what’s next or remember what’s gone, Houston Builds Itself looks closely at the movement of dirt. To mark time, it supports photography of current and future construction sites. Process photos are regularly more revealing than finished ones because they show what went on instead of what remains. Brief comments may be offered, but mostly it’s about seeing Houston as it happens.