Rebecca Lyon is a projectionist, film connoisseur, and photographer from Chicago. I also knew her in college. We weren’t especially close, with the exception of that fateful weekend we spent together at a ServeSafe food certification seminar. We bonded over the grotesque stories of food truck poisoning, the complete lack of useful information, and the fact that walruses can get botulism. Or something.
In any case, a mutual friend about posted her photo account and I became an instant fanGurl. I look at pictures like this like I suppose men look at porn. There is something visceral about decay. Something exciting about nature reclaiming what humans built in their hubris. Read Rebecca’s statement at the end, it’s a really wonderful description of her work and why we are fascinated by decay.
“I think most of the photos Caitlin picked were taken in cities that are suffering from some serious neglect for numerous reasons. New Orleans, Athens, Pine Bluff, Cairo IL, that truck is somewhere in Wyoming, I can’t remember the town, but these places are just filled with houses and cars in various states of decay, there’s a lot of crumbling going on. I didn’t go to these places because of this, but this is definitely what you become drawn to once you’re there. Those things become evidence of a human presence that’s now gone. That leads to the question of why did they leave, and there’s a story there. I don’t come up with too many stories staring at a new condo building except someone built this, someone bought this, etc. With abandoned things it becomes, someone left this, this has been forgotten, what becomes of it now, etc. There’s loss there which makes it more interesting.
There some serious evidence of death is a couple of those. In Cairo I remember those empty building would just have these wasps pouring out of them, these giant black wasps the size of hummingbirds. It was nightmarish. And in Athens there were a lot of abandoned buildings that people had just started throwing their trash into. I would poke around in them a bit, but I was always terrified of finding dead dogs and cats, there were so many strays in that city. You’d be standing near some amazing ancient ruins and there would be a bloody faced dog missing an eye just sitting there distracting everyone. It’s a beautiful city though.”