Desolate Metropolis

“I think the sense that you have in Detroit is that it’s the end of something and the beginning of something new. It’s very rare that someone lives at that time, at that place, where something’s disappearing, vanishing into the past, and something new is emerging. That’s very inspiring, to be at that particular time.”
Grace Lee Boggs

“I have always looked upon decay as being just as wonderful and rich an expression of life as growth.”
Henry Miller

Detroit has received a fair amount of attention over the years from photographers and tourists of ‘ruin porn’ as one homeless man told me. I honestly thought I had seen it all before I visited and knew all the usual places people came to photograph. Not being a fan of tourist checklists, I opted for the best way to get to know a space, random driving. Detroit is an interesting place, not just in terms of ruins (of which it has a staggering amount) but also it’s people, it’s topography and most importantly its community. People who did not have the option to leave/flee have developed interesting community watch programs, maintenance of public parks, and cultivated urban farms. Detroit was neither as I imagined it or expected it to be, but far more complex and friendly. There is very little contrast here. You can drive around for days and just see economic devastation, poverty unimaginable for the developing world, and racial segregation that is unlike anything I’ve seen in Canada and elsewhere in the US, but for the most part people are very friendly, willing to share stories of when their city was more prosperous, and was one of the few places where locals were curious why I was documenting their neighborhood. This is an ongoing project of mine so the subject matter will expand and change somewhat but my interest in Detroit is not merely in it’s ruins, but how it represents one way the future could look more like this everywhere if off-shoring, low wages and high interest student loans and mortgages continue to plunge the middle class further down the food chain. Detroit could be the future.