Detroit, Michigan, once the symbol of America’s great industrial and cultural achievement, today stands as its opposite—a city of desperate poverty and unemployment. Its neighborhoods, schools and one-time state of the art factories lie in burned-out ruins.
Moore’s large format color photographs provide a dramatic and shocking glimpse into the decay of what was once the fourth largest metropolis in the US, the result of decades of deindustrialization. The photographs, at times evoking the studied architectural detail of the images of Robert Polidori, journey through Detroit’s shuttered school buildings, the interiors of long-ago abandoned auto plants and offices, and the city’s dilapidated once-grand buildings.
Cass Technical High School, previously a source of pride in Detroit’s educational system, is a windowless shell. A wing of classrooms viewed from a courtyard reads like a series of dioramas, displaying twisted piles of desks and torn-up books that suggest happier times. Ford’s River Rouge Complex, once the largest industrial facility in the world, is a picked over skeleton scattered with debris. Neighborhoods such as Detroit’s East Side and Highland Park are depicted with ashen skies and muted colors in a post-apocalyptic state.
The photographs are haunting and profound in their portrayal of a city that is the most concentrated expression of an economic process that has transformed nearly the whole of America’s industrial landscape.
Publisher: Damiani/Akron Art Museum
Publication Date: 2010
Publication Type: Hardcover with color illustrations