The Akron Museum of Art is showing Andrew Moore’s Detroit Disassembled, a powerful collection of photographs of the destruction of some of Detroit’s great landmarks.
Above is one of the photos on display through Oct. 10 in Akron. It shows the former home of Cass Technical High School, a four-year college-preparatory school that has hosted the likes of Jack White, Lily Tomlin and Diana Ross. Students moved into a new, modern building in 2004.
Above is Ford’s River Rouge Complex. The industrial complex took 11 years to construct. Upon its completion in 1923, it was the world’s largest. It is 1.5 miles by 1 mile long, including 93 buildings and 16 million square feet of industrial space. Part of the complex was designed by Albert Kahn, a great industrial architect, who also constructed an addition to Cass Tech. Kahn’s architecture can be found throughout Moore’s photographs.
Above is a homeless encampment at the Detroit Dry Docks complex, a enormous factory that served Detroit’s early shipping industry. In 2006, developers were planning a $15 million renovation of the facility, which would have built 20 condominiums. The economic downturn squelched plans. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
That should give you a taste of what the show is like. More images are available on Moore’s website. I got a chance to check it out this weekend, and I would highly recommend it. It is going to be traveling around the country, following its opening in Akron. The show has raised the whole “ruin porn” argument.
I learned a lot from the show, however. There’s something really affecting about seeing grand buildings, that once symbolized a city and a country’s wealth, abandoned to the elements. I think a lot of photographers are right in recognizing that these images capture a profound shift in our society, one that has a cruel streak. I felt physically anxious seeing these photos.
It’s good for people to be conscious of the tragedy that is unfolding in Detroit. To stare it in the face. What does it say about the kind of society we’ve become?
I’d like to see the issue become America’s tragedy, the way Hurricane Katrina did, instead of Detroit’s problem.
These photographs are important because what is happening in Detroit is important.