Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre: The Ruins of Detroit


14 March — 11 May 2013

Melted Clock, Cass Technical School, 2008

Michigan Theater, 2007

Room 1605; Lee Plaza Hotel, 2008

Michigan Central Station, Waiting Hall, 2008

Classroom, St. Agnes School, 2008

Bank Vault, 2005

Detroit Public Schools Book Depository, 2007

Michigan Central Station, 2007

Evidence Room, Highland Park Police Station, 2006

Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel, 2006

Press Release

Galerie Edwynn Houk is proud to announce its first exhibition with the French photographers Yves Marchand (b. 1981) and Romain Meffre (b. 1987). The galerie will show a selection of large-format photographs from the artists’ first series, The Ruins of Detroit. This will be their first exhibition in Switzerland.

Detroit, Michigan, has become a symbol of deindustrialization, where a former industrial capital for the majority of the twentieth century has suffered an unprecedented rapid decline. Its civic halls, schools, train stations, working-class homes, and hotels have been crumbling over the past 50 years, as the manufacturing that peopled and financed the city halted. Seeing ruins as “visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension,” Marchand and Meffre set out to fully document over a five year period the city center’s disintegration.

Their photographs are haunting, capturing a dystopian scene that resembles a stage set from a science fiction film. However, the photographs are more than just documents of detritus and relinquished spaces. They are testimonies of abandoned narratives. There are images of school book depositories, bank vaults, apartments, ballrooms and police evidence rooms that give the impression that the Motor City wasn’t just deserted over time, but rather vacated in such a hurry as if no one wanted to be the last to turn off the lights. With the cool perspective of an outsider, Marchand and Meffre have produced a body of work that objectively looks at “the volatile result of the end of an era.”

Marchand and Meffre live and work in Paris. Initially pursuing photography individually, they met online in 2002 and started working together with the beginning of their Detroit project in 2005. Steidl published The Ruins of Detroit in 2010. A fifth edition is planned for later this year. They are currently completing their Gunkanjima book, also to be published by Steidl (April 2013), and they continue to work on a project documenting American theaters that have either fallen into decay or been transformed entirely. Their work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The British Journal of Photography, Time Magazine, amongst others.