Should we celebrate the decay of beautiful places? Buildings fallen into disrepair are generally a heartbreaking representation of financial decline or the fickle human condition, always moving on to new projects, homes, businesses, leaving former abodes to crumble into dust. But Dan Marbaix has turned this neglectful attitude into a virtue, travelling the world to photograph abandoned buildings in all their elegantly collapsing glory. Taking pity on the dispossessed elements of architectural society, he records their plight in high-resolution technicolour, transforming the long forgotten into infinitely memorable visions of beauty, melancholy and supreme oddness.
The project began at an abandoned manor house in the UK, Marbaix says. “It was filled with objects and some beautiful features,” and the pictures came out so well that he began to shoot more and more, with the project taking him further afield, to odder locations. In Germany, he found what appears to be the forsaken home of a doctor and his family: coats hanging by the door, washing up left on the side, a surgery intact but for the encroaching dirt and crumbling walls. In other locales, paint and wallpaper flake picturesquely from the walls, dust coagulates like traffic jams, cobwebs drift like streamers. The images can be ordered into clusters – shots peering down long, decrepit corridors; others featuring eerie details such as rocking horses, rotten pianos, a dust encrusted hospital bed; a set exploring the scale and deteriorating majesty of abandoned industrial buildings. They run from the old – churches, theatres, abandoned railway stations – to the modern – swimming pools, bowling alleys, operating theatres – with uncanny details such as decapitated crucifixes and an undisturbed brain scan causing double takes. As the title says, these are images of decay, but in their decomposing state, there is more to be seen and more to consider than in the most pristine of show-homes.