Vicki Clough Curates

Musings on art and life.

Deriliction in photography- the scraps of civilisation

Dereliction- a state of willful neglect.

The word itself invokes a sense of sadness and loss. It would hardly seem as if anything beautiful or attractive could possibly come from something derelict, and yet, there is some poignant and moving photographic art being produced that deals with this exact subject, in a way that is sensitive and enchanting.

In a world that is pre-occupied with the new and the unused, dereliction, ironically, seems to be becoming more commonplace. Cities where once thriving industries have recently collapsed have seen a decline in population and a drop in property value. This, in turn, has lead to the abandonment of homes and various other buildings, as well as personal belongings. Artists, ever the observers and recorders of human history, have touched upon this theme in recent years as an inspiration for some thought provoking and poignant work.

In 1999 Camilo Jose Vergara published a book of photographs that documented the decline of  numerous urban areas in America. The buildings depicted are not particularly old fashioned, or even outdated, but typical houses, shop fronts and industrial style buildings that are still being built today.


Since then, other artists have followed in a similar vein to Vergara. French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have worked together to document the decline that has taken hold of Detroit since the decentralisation of the car manufacturing plants in the area. The images are mostly of the insides of long abandoned buildings that they occasionally had to break into to photograph. Evidence of past inhabitants and the purposes of the building are often shown scattered on desks and floor space, giving the impression that the area was quickly evacuated in the midst of some natural disaster, such as a tornado.

David Creedon is an Irish photographer who has actively searched for abandoned houses to document for his book entitled Ghosts of the Faithful Departed. The work shows the dilapidated states of various houses that have been empty since the mass emigration of Irish nationals, probably since around the 1950’s. The peeling walls and dust covered floors tell the story of individuals and families who were forced o move on in the search of better lives.


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This entry was posted on October 11, 2012 by in Art, Photography.
Vicki Clough

Vicki Clough

Vicki is an independent curator and craftsperson with a focus on socially engaged and participatory art and events. In January 2016 she helped launch Reconstructing Resilience, a research and curatorial project that explored various forms of sustainable practice. As a freelance curator she has worked with the Riverdale Hub, Myseum of Totonto/Art Spin and was the Curatorial Director of Figment Toronto from 2014 to 2017. She has also co-curated exhibitions including JAYU's iAM photography project (2016 & 2017), Move to Stillness, for the Harbourfront Centre's Kick Up Your Heels Festival (2015), The Duel, AGO First Thursdays (2014), and What Are You Made Of? OCAD U Graduate Gallery (2013). She initiated the Toronto based workshop model and website Polymers in Action: Socially Engaged Art and the Environment as part of her studies at OCAD University, where she obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. She publishes on anything that interests her deeply and moves her to the point of lengthy verbal expression.

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