What does “ruin porn” tell us about the motor city, ourselves, other American cities?

Marchandmeffre-575.jpg Photograph by Yves Marchan and Romain Meffre courtesy Steidl.

This is one of the most fascinating, thought-provoking articles I’ve read in a long long time.

Author John Patrick Leary talks about the “very real rubble of the Motor City’s economy” that’s trending among photographers, from the point that it’s become a kind of pornography, “exploitative in its depiction of Detroit’s impoverishment.” Collections and compilations of these images are curated in such a way to fulfill and confirm portrayals of ‘the city’ that loom large in the American imagination.

Leary writes that it is not only the history and legacies of urban centres that are evoked by picture-telling, but that more importantly, those images should compel us to think in terms of the future of communities.

In a small cities setting, we also dramatize historical landmarks and spaces, and the people who inhabit them, and the topic of “ruin” is worthy of consideration when we dialogue about communities, from the angle of history as well as the future.