Decrepit Decor

I just ran across these gorgeous, tragic photographs by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre Photography of Detroit, crumbling:

YvesMarchandRomainMeffreFWHotel

YvesMarchandRomainMeffreUATheater

YvesMarchandRomainMeffreBankVault

(via Erie Basin)

When did I begin to love this stuff?  I don’t know if I can pin it down.  I didn’t grow up in one of those collectors’ homes filled with relics of my ancestors.  And even that isn’t exactly what I like — I like messy, falling apart, old.  Paint peeling off of walls, grand, acclaimed, used, used, used, and then forgotten.  I feel like nothing made today will ever look so grand in its demise.  Our chipboard, drywall, and siding will fall off in panels, cotton-candy insulation will fluff out in clumps.  Maybe not, but it’s hard to imagine our ruins being pretty.

I think it was in Europe.  I don’t feel like the western U.S. has much remotely like this.  I think it was the streets of York, moss growing on a ruined abbey in Chester, posters peeling off the walls in Berlin, stumbling upon the Roman forum.  The ruins of my childhood were in Walnut Canyon — notable to everyone else, but dime-a-dozen to Flagstaff schoolchildren (as was the Grand Canyon — spoiled? Yes, we were).  For some reason this was way more moving.  Probably my age more than anything.

Anyway, here’s a photo I took at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia last summer:

EasternStatePen

It’s a haunting place, but gorgeous in its own way, well-designed with light in mind.  Well, and isolation of prisoners).  But compare this to the Supermax facility in Florence, CO:

FlorenceSM-DLR-4

Much nicer, no?  Perhaps not as secure.  But sunlight beats fluorescent bulbs any day, whether you’re in prison or academia.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Decrepit Decor

  1. My family (minus Eric and I) was just in Detroit and were commenting on the tragedy and beauty of the city wasting away. I love the photos!

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