Detroit in Ruins

On The Observer web site today you can see a remarkable set of 16 images of ruined buildings – exteriors and intereiors – from the the US city of Detroit, made by two young French photographers, Yves Marchand (b1981) and Romain Meffre (b1987), self-taught photographers from the southern outskirts of Paris.  The illuminating report by Sean O’Hagan that accompanies the pictures, as well as explaining something of the background of the decline of Detroit, the city built on the car industry and once central to the American dream, later the Motown of the music industry, abandoned dream for dread, desertified into an American nightmare, also tells us a little about how the two photographers began this work.

Together they had been photographing abandoned buildings in Paris, and searching the web for more they came across a photograph of Detroit’s Michigan Central train station and immediately knew they had to go and photograph it. They made their first week long visit to the city in 2005, and returned for six further weeks in the next four years to produce a remarkable body of work, published rather expensively by Steidl as The Ruins of Detroit. You perhaps get a better impression of the work from the rather small page spreads on the Steidl page, but the best place to see it is the photographers’ website, where you can also see work from their Theaters project. It’s also worth exploring the ‘Press‘ section on their ‘bio‘ page.

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