the avant garde of deindustrialization

we got to tour around detroit once. it didn't take long. only a few buildings, or sections of buildings, allow people to enter safely. the motown museum was in a small house on an abandoned street, but worth every hesitant step towards it. stepping inside showed us what detroit was, culturally and musically, when the city was one of the richest in the world, inspiring artists we all love, such as the jackson 5, the supremes, marvin gaye, and stevie wonder. 

but leaving that funkadelic home of music history was quite depressing.

almost as depressing as the collards and chicken steak someone told us we had to have if we ever went to detroit...

a couple months later, ty's brother showed us some photographs, and i bought the book.  they are the work of yves marchand and romain meffre, photographers who have documented detroit in its current state of ruin, for it won't last long.

or will it?

i'm pretty sure i wandered through a castle (in a small town in france i'd have to look up because i can't remember the name of) that was built centuries ago, and although it is now just a few walls standing, it is still there, a remnant of history, of what once was, of someone's wealth that time did not maintain.
but things were built better back then, right? and these pictures show buildings that were only built a few decades ago, and there are trees growing inside them, and they are nothing more than walls already.

i am still in awe when i thumb through these pages. a testament of time, and of how wealth can build and destroy so quickly. thomas sugrue says it better:

The abandoned factories, the eerily vacant schools, the rotting houses, and gutted skyscrapers...are the artifacts of Detroit's astonishing rise as a global capital of capitalism and its even more extraordinary descent into ruin, a place where the boundaries between the American dream and the American nightmare, between prosperity and poverty, between the permanent and the ephemeral are powerfully and painfully visible. No place epitomizes the creative and destructive forces of modernity more than Detroit, past and present.

the book is beautiful. the pictures are unreal.

and, man, i want to go wander through some of the buildings and take home some theatre seats or vintage fridges as part of history that might disappear forever (and look really cute in my kitchen!).


mamiya 645 taken spring 2012

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