Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cryin' Shame: Yves Marchand & Roman Meffre's Detroit Ruins

Thanks to Andy Marshall (@fotofacade on Twitter) who brought this online collection of sadly beautiful and provocative photos to our attention. There is truly something fascinating about photos of abandoned buildings; the two examples shown here are most interesting to us because they represent some examples of Tudor-Gothic revival architecture which was popular throughout the Midwest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The economic upheaval we've seen over the past few decades has hit the city of Detroit particularly hard, and part of Yves Marchand & Roman Meffre's photo collection focuses on what they observed there.

ABOVE: First Unitarian Church, Detroit

As the photographers explain on their website, the photo exhibition, titled "Contemporary Ruins" is based on the following concept:
"Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension.

The state of ruin is essentially a temporary situation that happens at some point, the volatile result of change of era and the fall of empires.This fragility, the time elapsed but even so running fast, lead us to watch them one very last time : being dismayed, or admire, making us wondering about the permanence of things.

Photography appeared to us as a modest way to keep a little bit of this ephemeral state."

ABOVE: Luben Apartments, Detroit

It's certainly sad to see some of these fine buildings in such sorry condition; while some do not look totally beyond repair, the current state of the economy in Detroit makes it unlikely that most would be saved any time soon. Just as sad is the fact that in many of their photos, you can see useful architectural details, furniture, artifacts, and even in one case, an abandoned school library with hundreds of books rotting on the shelves. Sadly, I would be willing to bet that none of them will be salvaged or reclaimed.

At least Marchand and Meffre have been able to preserve the memory of these buildings. To see the whole collection, go HERE.
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