Chained Ruins Part I

Uploaded 9 Sep 2010 — 2 favorites
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© Joshua Ball
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More of Joshua Ball’s Photos

  • Chained Ruins Part II
  • Chained Ruins Part I
  • Cleveland Collaboration
  • Post-Processing Paradigm

Photo license: © All rights reserved

The thing the caught my attention most was the giant razor-wire fence that spanned the entire perimeter of the building. I kept trying to incorporate the jagged shape of the fence into my photographs. In the top photo, the morning sun was reflecting brilliantly off the surface of a single razor and I positioned myself to try and capture it. While the building was stunning within itself, I found the contrast between the stone surface of the structure and the rusted metal of the fence to be intriguing. Michigan Central Station was built to commute people into Detroit, welcoming them with open arms. 87 years later, a crude barricade made of razor wire and gnarled metal fencing stood to prevent people from even entering the station. It was obvious that urban explorers were unwelcome. As the morning was brilliantly clear and there were several onlookers, we figured that it was in our best interest not to try and find an entrance into the structure. Those circumstances aside, I couldn’t help to wonder what kind of architectural wonders and engineering marvels were hidden behind the building’s gray exterior.

I felt sadness and empathy for the hollowed structure and I remember thinking what a great treasure this building was for the city of Detroit. While grass-root efforts have been made to save the structure, the future of Michigan Central Station is not bright. In 2009, the city passed a resolution to demolish the building but a single citizen sued the city citing the national Historic Preservation Act of 1966. While the structure still stands, it most likely will continue to decay until time takes its inevitable toll. Michigan Central Station is an iconic Detroit structure and its history seemingly parallels the city’s. Once a strong symbol of progress, it proudly served the city’s citizens until it found itself obsolete and without purpose. It now sits idle, waiting for redemption or destruction, whichever comes first.

While these images help draw a parallel between this single structure and the city of Detroit as a whole, I can’t help but find a deeper meaning. My mind keeps going back to that fence and its underlying purpose. The tangled mess of barb and razor was erected to keep people out of Michigan Central Station. While this is undoubtedly for their own protection, it reaffirms the city’s attitude towards the preservation of its own treasures. This is not a foreign concept as many of us are guilty of committing similar internal injustices. We build internal walls and erect metaphorical fences to protect ourselves from being hurt by others, essentially muting our own potential. Whether this behavior stems from a past history of disappointment or it is a direct result of our contemporary culture, we often refuse to let others in. As human beings, our most prized treasures often dwell in the strength of our own hearts. However, we tend to build our own tangled fences of barb and razor in an effort to shield the treasures within.

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