The Ruins of Detroit (Reprint).Jul 27, 2013 Tara 0 Current Events
Symbolizing the dramatic decline of Motor City, many buildings and structures in the former manufacturing mecca of Detroit, Mich. lay in crumbling and weather-beaten ruins. In his bestselling book, “The World Without Us,” Alan Weisman (who has reported from abandoned cities such as Chernobyl, Ukraine and Varosha, Cyprus) wrote that structures crumble as weather does unrepaired damage and other life forms create new habitats. A common structure would begin to fall apart as water eventually leaks into the roof, erodes the wood and rusts the nail, he wrote. Without intervention, many of Detroit’s abandoned structures would eventually succumb to nature’s elements.
But there is a haunting beauty to the decaying ruins of a post-industrial city such as Detroit, which has become the largest American city to file for bankruptcy. And this is what photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre captured in their series “The Ruins of Detroit” (Steidl, 2011). In the images above, Marchand and Meffre document a city’s disintegration, showcasing structures that were formerly a source of civic pride.
“Detroit is a very symbolic place in modern history,” Marchand told Weather.com. “In Europe, the ruins were mostly anecdotal, they were the very last pieces of a changing and gentrifying landscape… Detroit’s ruins seemed a bit like a natural component of the cityscape. You could find all the archetypal buildings of an American city in a state of abandonment, like an American Pompeii. We knew we would probably never have the opportunity to photograph such a powerful place anywhere else.”
And while weather has ravaged the abandoned buildings, making them a more striking photographic subject for Marchand and Meffre, the photographers themselves also had to contend with the elements. “As photographers, we had to deal with light conditions, and in abandoned buildings there is usually no electricity and only natural light,” said Marchand. “We had to deal with immediate environment and weather to find the right moment to shoot. For exterior [shots], we often used soft, low-angled light during autumn or winter.”