Packshot People Blog

States of Decay

Posted by Ryan Watts on 26/07/2013

The economic decline in the United States in recent years has led to a number of poignant photographic projects. Last year, I wrote a short piece on Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre's excellent project 'The Ruins of Detroit', which focused on the deteriorating condition of what was once the motoring capital of the world. From hotels to theatres, Marchand and Meffre's images depicted the dereliction of the area, where nature is slowly reclaiming the buildings which, within living memory, represented the burgeoning prosperity of American industry.

You can read my piece on that here. Sadly, the scope of projects such as theirs is broadening. Photographers Daniel Barter and Daniel Marbaix have recently published States of Decay, which highlights the urban decay taking place not just in one city but across the United States, from New York to Connecticut.

The concept is broadly similar to Marchand and Meffre's project. But the difference is that where the French pair's focus on Detroit presented the condition of the United States in a sort of microcosm, Barter and Marbaix are dealing with the topic on a far wider spectrum. There's a similarly human element to it all, though. It would be easy to focus on grand buildings and decaying paintwork, but some of the more successful images - as with the Detroit collection - leave you wondering what happened to the people who used to populate the buildings. One of the strongest images, indeed, depicts the corridor of a New York psychiatric hospital, strewn with plastic balls. It epitomises the poignancy of the situation for me.

Always a fascinating topic.


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