January 11, 2013
Ruins. Empty hollow shells of what once was. Disarray, deshabille, the beautiful poetry of decay. Buildings that once stood, fully functional, making themselves useful to the people that created them to serve a greater purpose. But time passes and use falls away, and buildings that once were designed to serve us are no longer necessary. And, if the land is not wanted, there is no need to tear them down. Instead they are abandoned, left behind, reclaimed by nature ever so slowly.
As Harry Skrdla writes in the introduction to his book, Ghostly Ruins: America’s Forgotten Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press), “We construct buildings not just as shelter, but as frameworks of life—templates within which to conduct the business of living. Each one is designed for a purpose: a place to reside, a place to bank, a place to make things. They are occupied by, and surrounded with, living breathing human beings…as long as they serve a purpose. But when their reason for existence is gone and the people drift away, only memories remain.”
Skrdla traveled around the country in search of buildings that are but remnants of their former splendor. Collected here are thirty such locations including homes and hotels, power plants and prisons, whole neighborhoods and even entire towns—what once was now becomes an eerie reminder of lives lived and long gone, haunting and poignant reminders of an earlier world. Skrdla explains, “An abandoned building is dead—as dead as any corpse left decaying in a field. But it too once lived, was animate, and in a sense, had a soul. Except that soul was us. We gave it life and meaning, motion and warmth. We put the spark of light behind the shade-lidded windows and the circulation in its corridors. It consumed supplies and excreted waste. The thing was alive and the life force was us.” The building, as we know it, is an extension of our lives themselves.
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Le Journal de la Photographie