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Discussion in 'Industry News' started by EKDobbs, Nov 11, 2012.
Hosted in The Daily Beast, possibly elsewhere. I apologize if this is old content.
Very interesting. Thanks for the link.
Funny, I just was looking at that and pondering. Warning: this ramble connects Dutch painters to Detroit to Burley's work ;-)
The 16th Century Dutch painters would paint still life drawings of fruit, but the fruit would be rotten. The style was called vanitas - http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanitas and it played upon our notions of mortality.
That is what I really think Burley's stuff is about. When a photographer takes pictures of the decay of a great American city (like Detroit), it is not really about the city. No more than the paintings are about the rotten fruit. It is an attempt at manipulating us to confront our mortality. Now I love photographing old abandoned industrial stuff, and I know I am playing with the notion of vanitas. But I try not to exploit the environment that I shoot (by not identifying it, and try to focus on its permanence and strength vs its decay). I was recently talking to some urban activists in Detroit, and they have some pretty nasty words for 'decay tourists' as being part of the problem not part of the cure. On first brush this reminds me of this sort of stuff. Not a love letter to analog or a documentation of transition, but another vanitas road trip.
As a footnote, the classic American cities are making a bit of a comeback http://www.salon.com/2012/05/12/rust_belt_chic_declining_midwest_cities_make_a_comeback/?mobile.html as the young, adventurous and creative are returning - that also to me parallels what is going on in film. (Disclaimer, a Canuck raised on Detroit rock radio!)