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.


Shannon said...

Detroit Disassembled by Andrew Moore is a similar book that accompanied an exhibition. Some of the photos are similar to the ones by Marchand and Meffre, the same locations (Cass Tech with the clock for instance), and about the same time period. One that I remember in particular was a library branch where there were books and furniture strewn over the floor, probably by vandals. It was hard to believe that that much would be left behind just as if they had shut up one evening and then never reopened. You can see some of them here http://andrewlmoore.com/photography/detroit/

Andrew Shields said...

The trashed library and the biology classroom hit me most. And the Highland Park Police Station, as my family lived in HP when I was born.

Maybe it's the ones with papers and books and pictures in them still, the ones as much trashed as abandoned that hit me.

Have you ever seen Gran Torino? It was filmed in Highland Park.

Monster Librarian said...

This is a great blog:

This photographer tries to capture some of the sadness and beauty in Detroit today.

northierthanthou said...

Very col pictures. Amazing how interesting decay can be as a photographic subject.