Yves Marchand and Romain Mefre began their photo essay, “The Ruins of Detroit,” with a short introduction stating “Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension. The state of ruin is essentially a temporary situation that happens at some point, the volatile result of change.” What if the ruins aren’t a temporary situation? What if someone is forced to live surrounded by the evidence of his or her failures and ruins of his or her life every day? I wanted to explore these questions in my photo essay.
My family’s circumstances are rather unusual; we live in the ruins of my parents’ failed life together. Our house is the broken and fractured shell of the life we were supposed to have, but instead we live in its ruin. “Decent into Decay: The Ruins of a Family” explores how my parents’ house has fallen into ruin as a result of their failed marriage and extended financial hardships. I documented my parents’ house, the home where I grew up, through new eyes: not just from a photographer’s perspective, but also as an outsider who is entering the space for the first time.
While it is common to think of ruins as the fall of great empires and dynasties, it is more rare to think of the people, children, and families whose lives ground to a halt as a result of that destruction when looking at the empty spaces. My family, especially my two younger sisters and I, struggle to survive the looming shadows of my parents’ past mistakes. Our futures are tethered to these ruins, but we persevere and try to escape this never-ending decent into decay.
You can find the rest of my published photo essay and in-depth analysis here.