Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Shades of Old Detroit
I just came across this while looking for something else in Google images: a project by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, called The Ruins of Detroit, a 5-year collaboration between 2005 and 2010. This is part of what they have to say about the work:
"Detroit, industrial capital of the XXth Century, played a fundamental role shaping the modern world. The logic that created the city also destroyed it. Nowadays, unlike anywhere else, the city’s ruins are not isolated details in the urban environment. They have become a natural component of the landscape. Detroit presents all archetypal buildings of an American city in a state of mummification. Its 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."
My father grew up in Detroit in the 1930s and 1940s, worked in the auto factories during the summer, and went to the grand movie houses during the height of the movie era. I have always wanted to visit the Detroit of his youth, and looking at these pictures is, in some ways, like looking at him: under the age are traces of a marvelous youth, a grace and power that still speak to us, despite the passage of time. It's both breathtaking and heartbreaking to see these remains of another era. Particularly, I find the image of the theatre to be beautiful and sad.