Stages of Decay by Julia Solis
In case you’ve not noticed, the public fascination over abandoned buildings — which often falls under the category “urban exploration,” though certainly not all the sites of interests are in cities — has continued to grow over the last few years, supporting all kinds of photo projects documenting places of interest.
The latest in this trend is Stages of Decay, by photographer Julia Solis, which concentrates entirely on theater spaces that are falling apart — some of them the kind of grand downtown theater you imagine, but also auditoriums and stage spaces in schools, theaters, prisons, wherever there might be a performance space.
The idea of abandoned and decay theater space is uniquely poetic, and Solis eloquently explores this in her photographs, as well as her introduction, in which she describes the way that time has taken the drama from the stage itself, with human players, and transferred it to the entirety of the space, with the action unfolding between the building’s own materials and the elements overtaking them. These are still spaces for performance, where stories unfold, just not the type they were originally intended for. Solis beautifully captures these spaces in her work, documenting the complexity inherent in falling apart.
The question remains why we are so fascinated by the detritus of our recent past, and Solis also goes a long way to explaining that. Suffice it to say, we of the 20th century were raised to believe that our world was made of civilization in its final ultimate form, and that our present was eternal in the earth’s history. What these buildings show, and what Solis’s photography expresses, is that our culture, even our sturdy structures meant to house it, are no more impervious to time and atmosphere than any crumbling archeological structure we unearth from previous great but also gone societies.
The Buddhists are right — everything is fleeting, including us, but as Solis’ photos suggest, there may be some beauty in our decline.