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Filmmaker and performance artist Jeremy Xido recalls growing up on the east side of Detroit, the only white kid in his predominantly African American neighborhood. Despite leaving Detroit for New York City and spending a decade abroad in Europe, his upbringing in Detroit unequivocally shaped Xido’s outlook on the world, and his craft. 

The Angola ProjectThe Angola Project“It provided me with an unusual perspective for a white person in the States, where I had a minority status. I also very early on understood that the way that the things look are not necessarily the way that they are. My cultural upbringing was definitely in large part my family, but equal parts my neighborhood, southern black culture who came up to Detroit to create a new life for themselves. And all of my friends who took me in, I was raised in that world.”

On July 10th, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), will screen the Michigan premiere of Xido’s Academy Award qualifying film, Death Metal Angola, and on July 14th, the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts presents his acclaimed performance piece, The Angola Project.

“My identity as I’ve travelled around the world, Detroit is where I’m from, and it’s enabled me to go everywhere I’ve gone. It’s framed my experiences, whether I’m in South America, Africa, Asia, or in the States, it’s been central to my understand of who I am, and how I can move through it, and the meaning of race, history, perseverance, the political struggle—I’ve always traced it back to my neighborhood.” 

It wasn’t until last September that Xido returned after two decades to a nearly unrecognizable Detroit landscape. 

By now presenting two opportunities for his hometown to see his artistic output, what attendees at the DIA and MOCAD may not be aware of is that Xido is also staging his next film, with the City of Detroit at its core.

“We’re using the opportunity of coming back and performing as the focal point, the narrative point, for a feature film. Then the city takes over.” Jeremy XidoJeremy Xido

Xido calls his project—for which he is the recipient of a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship—a hybrid of fiction, documentary and performance art, and intends to let it evolve over the course of the next year. The same crew of filmmakers who shot Death Metal Angola are accompanying him as he visits his old neighborhood, where he says his childhood home is one of a few left standing, to grocery stores, and yes, to the screening of their film at MOCAD.

“This is the single most meta piece I've ever done, and I think being back in Detroit, being at the center of this film is in itself super meta.”