Sometimes pretty pictures are just pretty pictures, but sometimes they have something to say.
Initially I was drawn to these images because, well, they are breathtaking. When I read about them I was pulled in further. The Parisian photographers,Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, have captured Detroit's urban ruins. "Splendid decaying monuments," they are lovingly named. "No less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great Empire."
Now, I have never stepped foot in the city of Detroit, but I feel taken by the images just the same. I think partially because Oakland shares some of the same negative perception that Detroit does. Because of this, I feel akin to a place I've never visited. I know that amongst the blight and despair, there are people trying to rebuild their city, people being creative in abandoned warehouses, entrepreneurs seeing opportunity just under the surface. It takes heart to live in a city like Oakland or Detroit. People scrunch their faces at the mere mention of your hometown. Just like it's worth it to Oaklanders to bear the scrutiny, I'm sure it is for the people of Detroit. Why? Because we know our city is slowly transforming and will take shape into something great, different than before, but great.
These images also feel so current and important to me. In them lies the lesson that the Detroit of the early to mid 20th century with its version of the faster, more, better, mass-produced American dream is unsustainable. What created that Detroit is ultimately what destroyed it. A great lesson for our nation and the world can be learned from this and applied on so many levels as we move forward in these tumultuous times.
Finally, I simply find them beautifully haunting. In the lost, the abandoned, the forgotten is usually where I, personally, find the most beauty.