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John Patrick Leary explores our fixation with urban ruins - namely their current mecca, Detroit:

So much ruin photography and ruin film aestheticizes poverty without inquiring of its origins, dramatizes spaces but never seeks out the people that inhabit and transform them, and romanticizes isolated acts of resistance without acknowledging the massive political and social forces aligned against the real transformation, and not just stubborn survival, of the city. And to see oneself portrayed in this way, as a curiosity to be lamented or studied, is jarring for any Detroiter, who is of course also an American, with all the sense of self-confidence and native-born privilege that we’re taught to associate with the United States.

Rob Horning has his own hypothesis:

Ruin photos speak to our desperate desire to have our world re-enchanted. We want the banal structures and scenes of our everyday life dignified by the patina of decay, so that we can imagine ourselves as noble, mythic Greeks and Romans to a later age and, more important, so that we can better tolerate the frequently shoddy and trite material culture that consumerism foists on us, see it once again as capable of mystery. ...We become larger than this life, than these dentist’s offices and deserted boardrooms Leary notes in the photos. We will survive it all, we will outlast the mediocrity that made us.

(Photo by Flickrite Shane Gorski)

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