Abandoned Buildings of Detroit     


This collection of photographs of abandoned buildings were taken on a recent visit to Detroit,  Michigan, in the U.S.A., over the Memorial Day Long Weekend in May 2010.These images continue an ongoing documentation of my personal experiences within urban environments. Usually these responses take the form of small assemblages on plywood made from collected material or large paintings that appropriate readymade abstract design elements. Both formats are an attempt to record my day-to-day interactions within specific locales. Over the years I have also occasionally used the camera to record certain interesting narratives when it was not practical to collect material from or reference the experience through painted images.  'Star of David' Graffiti in Tel Aviv, Flaking paint in Alcatraz, abstract patterns painted on metal Shutters in Cairo and Neon Signage along Nathan Road in Hong Kong are examples of this where images are collated together to record the event. On this occasion, the visit to Detroit presented a similar opportunity to document my experiences photographically. Although I would not consider photography a major aspect of my practice it has nevertheless become, on occasion, an efficient means of recording data quickly and effectively. The exhibition ‘One-Off’ at Greenaway Gallery in Adelaide is an opportunity to explore more fully a peripheral part of my  practice. Detroit is now part of what is termed the 'rust belt' of the U.S.A, which stretches across four states from Pennsylvania in the west to Ohio, Indiana and Michigan in the mid-west. The two decade long decline in industry has resulted in massive job losses throughout the region. Unemployment has forced many families to relocate to other parts of the U.S.A. leaving entire sections of the city abandoned. Detroit was once the proud industrial center of America and home to the Ford, General Motors and Chrysler automobile industries. It was known worldwide as Motor City, Hockeytown and the birthplace of Motown. These images are remnant reminders of better times. Detroit's proud legacy is now literally in ruins, the devastating result of introduced automotive processes that required fewer workers coupled with many industries being moved off shore. This has resulted in the collapse of much of the steel industry and the closure of many manufacturing plants resulting in widespread unemployment, an escalating drug and gang culture, prostitution, homelessness and a raft of social, health and economic issues. The lingering effects of the recent global financial crisis have only heightened the sense of hopelessness and decay found throughout the city. In 2009 Forbes Magazine named Detroit as Americas most dangerous city and in April 2010 CNN listed Detroit as the third most dangerous city in the world behind Baghdad and Caracas.


These images portray a city in crisis.


Peter Atkins