Detroit’s Beautiful, Horrible Decline (Photo Essay)

This is something subliminally beautiful about Detroit in its present (and tragic) state of decay. The closest American parallel I can think of is New Orleans, where the term “picturesque decay” popped into my mind again and again as I walked around the city.

Yet, unlike the South, architecture in the Rust Belt tends to be stone and brick rather than wood so there is a majesty in the buildings like something from a lost civilization.

There is a fine photo essay on Time.com worth checking out. It is created by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

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United Artists Theater

This image reminded me of the recent Miquel Barcelo’s bizarrely colorful stalactite ceiling for the Room of Human Rights and the Alliance of Civilisations at the United Nations building in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Brush Park

The juxtaposition of the fence, a collapsing mansion and a moody sky amplifies the tragedy in the photo with a heavy dose of loneliness. It is the land that time forgot.

Take a look at the whole photo essay here.

The one thing that made me uncomfortable is that it appears that one of the photographers, Yves Marchand, used the decaying theater for a fashion shoot, which you can see on his website (or a screenshot here). Though, to be fair, it does appear that Yves and his cohort, Romaine Meffre, do explore “ruins” as a major theme in their photographic work in general.

Check out their art photography here (it incl. tons of images from the Detroit series not posted on Time.com).

2 responses to “Detroit’s Beautiful, Horrible Decline (Photo Essay)”

  1. Hi Hrag! It was great meeting you at the Blogpix event this past Saturday! I went into the event hoping to discover some informative yet relateable art blogs that I could use to stay abreast of New York City art and culture (I’ve lived here for over 6 months already but I still have no idea what the hell is going on here!), and I definitely found a few through that event, yours included.

    Anyway, I took a look at the entire photo essay of thse two French photographers, and I have to say, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more controversy surrounding this essay (Or maybe there has been? I’m sure you know better than I do). I lived in the Detroit area years ago and I still have family and friends there, and it offends me a little to know that these two photographers, who aren’t from Detroit or even the U.S., are making money off of photographing Detroit’s war wounds like this. It feels…exploitative. I would feel better about the whole thing if on their website, Marchand and Meffre included more information about the history of Detroit and what the city is doing now to revitalize. Or, if a portion of thier proceeds was applied towards Detroit’s revitalization. The two photographers had a few short sentences about Detroit’s history on their website, but frankly, that just didn’t do it for me. I’m sure this issue comes up with all similar photo essays, but I just had to put this out there.

    Looking forward to your future posts!

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