It is an easy storyline to say that the once great city of Detroit is in ruins. Shambles! The grand architecture that marks the skyline is largely vacant, industry and business close to extinct, and the landmarks empty and dilapidated. This has been recorded by numerous photographers, recently by local photographer Keith Marlowe for Life Magazine. The practice has become a bit of a sport for some, garishly dubbed ruins pornography. And while the photos of feral houses are fascinating, one has to wonder about the context. As a viewer of these photographs, clicking through links far removed from this sad tableau, to see the image, the moment, we'd rather not climb into, we lack the context.
What makes Detroit Disassembled compelling is that it does not simply present a collection of derelict buildings and rotting interiors. There is a bit of that. All the popular angles for many photographers of the scene, the abandoned Packard Plant and the parking garage inside the former Michigan Theater. Yet, there is an attempt at context. Here, the photos include people, making the best of it amid the houses collapsing. Or better yet, the photographer does not crop out the rest of the city. Readers can judge for themselves, the Detroit Disassembled exhibit is on view at the Akron Art Museum through October.