The Allure of Abandoned Places

 What is this thing, allure? The urge to make… pic-ture.

(Can you sing the above, Sinatra-style?)

I can still take a walk, or a short drive, and see all the houses I “played” in whilst under construction (the houses, I mean; I suppose moi as well), but abandoned on weekends and in the evenings, and where all the empty overgrown lots were too, in the late ’50s and early ’60s. I wasn’t photographing then, much, but if I were… If I were. Perhaps the appeal is that it looks like raw subject matter, waiting for us to create order out of chaos. demonstrates how John Divola gave form to a deteriorating situation, building a sense of time into the portfolio.

It’s the built-in appearance of the passage of time that pricks our interest to begin with. Here’s a painting currently on display at the Hyde Park Art Center, one of many by Andy Paczos, that may or may not resemble a photographic sensibility to some of us.


Often the impulse is to record what is disappearing, as in the case of St. Richard Nickel. His documentation of Louis Sullivan’s architecture drove him to make cymbal-crashes such as this, the procenium arch of the Garrick Theatre:

I’m fortunate never to have had an errant nail puncture my sole (how emo of me; how poetic), and I would never recommend that anyone visit places like these for picture-making. I know it goes on, though; asa a cautionary tale, here is where Richard Nickel died, in the trading room of the Stock Exchange.

For those who must, check out this book:

Where do you stand on these locations as subject matter? Have you had, um, adventures in these places? Share, please.

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