Friday, January 8, 2010

Grandiose Decay: Ruins of Detroit

The new collection of photos by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre are mesmerizing and romantic in their baroque beauty; the decaying Detroit buildings they capture seem to beckon us to wander through their crumbling ruins, to peek into their dark corners for ghosts -- both the historical and paranormal varieties. But there is also a lingering, deep sadness attached to them, sadness for what for what once was and has been lost...


I cannot help but ask why I feel sadness when I look at these photos, but do not feel the same emotion when I look at photos of, for example, the ruins of ancient Greece. The answer certainly lies in their relative newness: most of these structures were built in the early 20th century, a time not so disconnected from our very own. But they have become something akin to pre-historic ruins. The life and collective importance of the buildings are gone and only the shell remains. I wonder, what buildings which we cherish today will become ruins in the future? Do you, lovely readers, get this same feeling of loss and regret when you see a beautiful old building wasting away?


I want to leave you with a fragment from Charles Baudelaire's poem "The Flowers of Evil" in which he mourns, not the old, crumbling buildings of Paris, but the new, modern construction that began taking over the city in the mid 1800's. He already saw the new city as a collection of impending ruins:

"The old Paris is gone (the face of a city
Changes more quickly, alas! Than the mortal heart)

Paris changes, but nothing of my melancholy
Gives way. New palaces, scaffolding, blocks,
Old suburbs, everything for me becomes allegory,
While my dear memories are heavier than rocks..."


::Find Marchand and Meffre's book here; some beautiful quotes on ruins; a link to Baudelaire's poem; you can take a guided tour of Detroit's ruined buildings.

8 comments:

Brigid said...

That last photo is breathtaking!

Hammy said...

I can't help but feel sorry for that poor old piano.
I agree though, that last photo, wow.

Roz said...

These are simply stunning pictures, but they do cojour up a rather melancholic feeling. Especially the last one (which is also the most beautiful.) I would love to do photography like that!
Oh,ad thanks for the comment.

http://clothescamerasandcoffee.blogspot.com/

Eli said...

Have you ever seen the movie Silent Hill? Theres a similar eerieness about the two. So sad to see such great things go to waste.

Maggie said...

Part of what makes it so sad, to me, is that is seems like such an unneccessary waste. These buildings haven't lost their usefulness or their beauty but they've still been abandoned.

Sam said...

Fabulous photos - but I feel your sadness too! I think for me it has something to do with the fact that because they are recently runined and not really that historical the next step is destruction? Hmmm...also as you said the fact that they were once loved and now look at them - less than 100 years later. It's those fickle elements of style, fashion, finances etc that has no mercy with anything no matter how grand it is to start with....very thought provoking Tara!! :)Off to check out the links!

Alison said...

Oh, this is too, too good. The last photo especially - breathtaking!

izzit said...

the station is mind-boggling - gigantic - it needs a tiny dot at the bottom to indicate "you are here"...