Camilo José Vergara

Detroit Is No Dry Bones

Camilo José Vergara. Del Ray Building, 7716 West Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, 2008

Camilo José Vergara . Photos: © Camilo José Vergara . + National Building Museum

Detroit has lost nearly sixty percent of its population since the mid-1950s.

Camilo José Vergara. 3497 Mack Avenue, Detroit, 2007

Camilo José Vergara. Former Michigan Central Station, View from Dalzelle Street at 15th Street, Detroit, 2010

Camilo José Vergara. Former Oklahoma Gas Station, Livernois Avenue at Joy Road, Detroit, 1996

Camilo José Vergara. Willie’s Garage, 2520 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, 1991

Sociologist and photographer Camilo José Vergara has traveled to Detroit for over twenty five years to document not only the city’s precipitous decline but also how its residents have survived. Vergara’s photographs reveal the city of Detroit as a place in which enormous ruins coexist with myriad restaurants, car-repair shops, churches and gardens—a city that is continually re-inventing itself even as it shrinks.

Of his work, Vergara states “My belief is that by creating a photographic record of Detroit, as it is taken over by nature and pulled down by gravity, people will come to appreciate how the city continues to survive and to give answers to those who come to observe it…The empty land, the art projects, the graffiti commentaries, and the ruins of the city’s industrial past make Motown an unforgettable city of the imagination and could provide the basis for a new Detroit.”

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