The Motor City is being driven to the edge of ruin. Once the fourth largest city in America, the epitome of our industrial wealth and might sprawling over 139 square miles, Detroit has been in a downward spiral for years. In 1950 its population was 2 million, today it is less than 800,00. Fully one-third of Detroit is now empty land, with more abandoned property than any American city.
Capturing the faded glory and epic tragedy of Detroit, Andrew Moore has created a stunning photography show, Detroit Disassembled, organized by the Akron Art Museum from now through October 10. The exhibition features 30 huge photographs, taken between 2008-2009, that are so lush, towering and solemn, the galleries feel like cathedrals.
“Moore’s photographs of the Motor City are sublime – beautiful, operatic in scale and drama, tragic yet offering a glimmer of hope,” says the museum’s Director of Curatorial Affairs Barbara Tannenbaum, who organized the exhibition.
Kind of like the future of Detroit itself. Right now, the city government is planning to use federal money to demolish 10,000 empty residential buildings, at a cost of $20 million. Plans being considered are an urban homestead, with inner city residents setting up urban farms, or connecting viable neighborhoods with green space and relocating the residents in dead and dying areas.
What will happen in the future to a once majestic industrial city that is slowly crumbling is anybody’s guess. But right now “the true engineer” (as Moore calls it) of transformation is nature itself, as it reclaims the abandoned structures of the city. On the top floor of a book depository a dense matting of decayed books has given birth to a grove of birch trees nourished by rotting wood pulp. The metaphor of destruction and rebirth could hardly be more profound.
If your summer plans won’t take you to Akron, you can buy the gorgeous large-scale book of Moore’s photographs right here.
And I’m donating today to support this rocking little museum with a big vision of showing contemporary art and great photography in beautiful Akron, Ohio – right near my dad’s hometown. (And thanks Lu Law, for the hot tip on this story!)