Monday, 3 January 2011

The ruins of Detroit

Melted clock, Cass Technical High School
Over the weekend I came across the amazing images of the decaying buildings of Detroit by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre. They reminded me of a photo project carried out by Miho (one third of Pika Pika) in our final year at college. I remember sitting in the photo studio as she showed me image after image of buildings that looked like a collection of shot's from the set of a disaster movie. I felt a mixture of two emotions, one of surprise at the faded beauty of the buildings and past glory of Detroit and secondly of sadness that this was allowed to happen, these emotions resurfaced again when I saw the images of Marchand & Meffre.

Atrium, Farwell Building © Marchand & Meffre

Bagley-Clifford Office of the National Bank of Detroit,© Marchand & Meffre

United Artists Theater, © Marchand & Meffre

William Livingstone House, © Marchand & Meffre
Marchand and Meffre note on their site that "Detroit's splendid decaying monuments are, no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great Empire." I can accept this view point to some extent but in the end don't we all wish that the Pyramids or the Acropolis were appreciated sooner and kept in better condition for generations to come? I know by the same stroke that everything can't be preserved for posterity but when I look at gaze at these pictures I feel that something should be done. In the same issue of The Guardian, where I discovered these Detroit images, there was a poll on wither 9 Madryn Street, the house where Ringo Starr was born should be saved or developed, why aren't these buildings grabbing the same attention instead of being allowed to quietly crumble into obscurity?

Chernobyl Classroom, © Robert Polidori

Chernobyl, © Robert Polidori
5417 Marigny Street, New Orleans, © Robert Polidori

The images are beautifully taken and are the result of a 5 year project. They have a similar feel to  photos taken by Montreal photographer Robert Polidori of Chernobyl and of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In all three of these photo projects there is an air of "The Marie Celeste" in each frame, of something unexplainable, conversations left unfinished, things left undone, lives interrupted.

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