Abandoned Matinees II

This week’s Abandoned Matinees focuses on a pair of French photographers with a fascination for things once elegant, and now seemingly irreparably destroyed by the elements of water, apathy, and repurposing.

In The Ruins of Detroit (announced for print, but excerpted online), photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Mefre showed the tarnished elegance of Detroit’s corporate and economic buildings from interior shots, but perhaps the most haunting were views of the active and populated sections of main streets through the blown-out windows of derelict towers, now giant works of architectural art that stand as ghosts - too solid to crumble into total ruin because they were built with far too much care. (A related piece on the photo-essay was published at Ruin with a View.)

Their more recent project covers former U.S. movie palaces, some of which have new lives as churches, furniture storage, or swap meet stands, while others appear as gems awaiting secondary lives as entertainment houses –places where the spirit of these buildings could would once again find joy in being appreciated by the people they were meant to serve.

Other buildings aren’t so lucky. Detroit’s United Artists Theater, for example, is a devastating example of horrific neglect; it’s as though its owners are stubbornly determined to let natural elements destroy the once-palatial theatre, but it just won’t freakin’ die.

The work of Marchand and Mefre is showcased via the New York Times (see “Tattered Palaces”) as well as their own website, and if that final image of the United Artist Theater interior leaves you with an intense desire to see more (oh, it’ll hurt…), you can find images of its current state at Flickr, courtesy of Alan Machielse, and SNWEB.ORG Photography (starting with rooftop views of Detroit before views of the building interiors).

And then there’s Forgotten Detroit, which offers a photo-essay on the theatre’s glory years, a detailed chronological essay at Buildings of Detroit, and the UA Theater’s MySpace and Facebook pages. Seriously.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor


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