The Ministry of Artistic Affairs
Friday, August 26, 2011

Detroit has been the poster child of the American recession for number of years. While many Detroit organizations and residents are taking a “do-it-yourself” approach to rebuilding their city, their work is cut out for them, particularly when it comes to fixing up abandoned buildings. Yards need to be mowed, debris collected, seeds planted and homes rebuilt.

While Detroit is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, many neighborhoods are still abandoned — some of them for over a decade, since economic troubles first hit the city. Saddened but curious at Detroit’s decline, Kevin Bauman started photographing his home town as a creative outlet in the mid-1990′s. Years later, the result is Bauman’s beautiful and haunting “100 Abandoned Houses” collection.

“I had always found it to be amazing, depressing, and perplexing that a once great city could find itself in such great distress, all the while surrounded by such affluence,” he writes on his website.

According to Bauman, Detroit has around 12,000 abandoned houses — the result of a population decline from around 2 million to less than 800,000 people. On his journey through the city he said he found excitement surrounding Detroit’s “rebirth,” but he also stumbled upon people struggling to survive, some living in burnt down and dilapidated houses.

“In these neighborhoods I encountered concerned citizens, packs of wild dogs, 20 foot high piles of toilets, and houses with the facades torn off, filled with garbage,” he wrote.

While the picture is not exactly rosy, Bauman’s photos are beautiful. And hopefully they will soon be a testament to the progress residents have made in reconstructing their city — relics of a once again radiant Detroit.

By Julia Pyper on Art Threat.