A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Friday, 7 January 2011

Detroit in Ruins: A Haunting Tribute to a Dying City

The now decaying Gothic Revival United Artists Theatre, Detroit, built in 1928
I cannot even begin to tell you the emotions that were stirred in me when I saw the montage of photographs of Detroit, Michigan's once bustling and stately building captured so poignantly by French photographers Yves Marchand and Romaine Meffre in London's Guardian. These stunning photos have been exhibited in various European cities including Paris and Stockholm. Detroit (as I stated earlier) is a city that was very special to me. So to see it in this skeletal state is mournful. A book of these photos has been published in Europe ( but not yet in the US.)

Marchand and Meffre have specialized in the photography of contemporary ruins. Their thoughts on their work are summed up in this statement:

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.

The photographs are haunting, provocative and have the edging of a brutal melancholy. Looking at these photos reminds me of the photos of New Orleans after Katrina. But the saddest thing is...this was no force of nature that robbed this city of its lustre. It was the force of greed and corruption and an America that lost its way. 

I see these photos and I see the remains, but I also know that Detroit will rise from these ashes, stronger and more vibrant and extremely important in this next century. Nothing in these pictures would seem to augur that. But it will.  Mark my words. 

View full "Detroit in Ruins" images. 

A book of these photos has been published in Europe ( but not yet in the US.)

Selected images below (all photos by Yves Marchand and Romaine Meffre):