The Nain Rouge, Detroit 2007


Belle Isle Canoe Parade
Detroit circa 1907. “Band concert on Grand Canal, Belle Isle Park.” Once upon a time it might have been possible to woo a girl with just a humble canoe, but now you need plush pillows and a phonograph. 8×10 glass negative

Rather than invite the public at all, we divided our group into two teams who each created a scavenger hunt for the other, across decaying landmarks of Detroit.

nain rouge clue
Belle Isle abandoned zoo clue

surf floorTeams hunted for the elusive Nain Rouge, a legendary devil of the area. The city’s founder, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, was warned by a fortune teller —

“… that the the little red imp is the embodiment of his ambition, anger, pride, envy — everything that held him back. The Nain Rouge, she told him, is the harbinger of doom. If Cadillac chose to settle near the straits between Michigan and Ontario, the fortuneteller said, it might pay off one day, but it would be a long uphill slog fraught with setbacks.

Unfortunately, the fortune turned out to be true and Cadillac died penniless after he left Detroit for France. The city he founded, however, fared better, endured and prospered (mostly), against the fiendish efforts of the Nain Rouge.

For 300 years, Detroiters memorialized Cadillac’s actions and willingness to persevere and hope for better things, combined with the determination to rise from the ashes. At Detroit’s worst moments, the Nain has been there, cackling or taunting the city’s residents.”

A clue in the Globe Factory



photos by Gayle Snible, Julia Solis & Alita Edgarnain sign

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