"We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes," was the motto adopted by the city of Detroit, after it was ravaged by the great fire of 1805. American photographer Andrew Moore distils the spirit of this message in his haunting large-scale images of decay and renewal. From Cuba to Russia to Detroit, Moore seeks out disused, wrecked buildings and captures the moment that nature stakes her claim on their ravaged grandeur.
15 of Moore's works will go on display at Galerie Alex Daniels - Reflex
in Amsterdam, from April 10 to June 7 2010. It is the first time the photographer has exhibited in The Netherlands.
The images on display are wide-ranging in their subject matter, but unified by clarity of detail as well as narrative complexity: The abandoned "Palace Theatre" Gary Indiana, once ringing with gaiety and glamour, is now a darkened wasteland of torn-up seats, peeling paint and collapsing infrastructure. It is a devastating image, yet the natural light that seeps in through the ceiling and side door gently illuminates the dusty sea of velvet, providing a glimmer of hope.
In another, the ornate, gothic confection of an "Organ Screen" Detroit, threatens to disintegrate in a decaying movie palace in Motor City. Yet a block of orange light, emanating from a doorway below provides a mysterious yet welcome hint to a human presence.
In "Model T Headquarters", Detroit Michigan, an executive suite in an advanced state of dereliction has grown a mossy carpet, both ominous and yet benevolent in its vibrant springiness.
Over the past 30 years, Moore has travelled for months at a time to track down these secret places that are often the sad consequences modernization or political turmoil. His guerrilla approach has at times required the help of young, urban explorers, as well as cagey real-estate agents and business people.
Moore's embraces complexity in his work. "The images have multiple narrative threads, whether they be cultural, historical, or pictorial. I leave it up to the viewer to pick up on a few of these clues. There is always something to follow and latch on to."
Part of this complexity is due to the rich combination of artistic influences that inform his photographic style: he cites a broad range of inspiration from Walker Evans to the masters of American 19th-century painting.
There is a strong painterly quality to Moore's photographs, both in scale, texture and use of colour. The vitality of his palette, and his carefully chosen tonal combinations provide the building blocks of his work. "Colour is the first thing that imbeds itself in the viewer. It sets the emotional key to the picture. It creates a unifying overall mood - and I establish that right through the beginning."
Moore has had eight solo shows in New York as well as numerous exhibitions throughout the U.S. and internationally. His photographs are represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Library of Congress, the Israel Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the George Eastman House and the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
A new book with a foreword by Joel Smith, Curator of Photography Princeton University Art Museum, and a special limited edition of 2 original colour prints will be presented at the show.