Monday, February 21, 2011

Gary Indiana: Abandoned, Burned Out, and Gang Controlled


Nearly a year ago Matt Messner and I made a number of images on Easter Sunday in two abandoned churches in Gary, Indiana.  Some of you may be familiar with the images, there were a couple of shows in Chicago that featured the work.  As the darkest part of winter is now behind us I am again drawn to that city to make a new series.

These were the postcard invites to the first show which contained exclusively work from that Sunday.
The trips to Gary now date back more than 4 years, each trip we have made brings us new finds and changed architecture and environments.  We started with the more dramatic buildings that invited us in with gaping holes in their walls, the large factories, theaters, and cathedrals.  As the years passed we started expanding our radius from the main drag downtown, Broadway.  We began to find burned out buildings, streets of derelict homes, and various other products of a greatly shrunk population.

This weekend I spent a number of hours documenting the rampant abandonment of homes in and around downtown Gary.  I begin to form a typology of average Gary dwellings.  Some have been burned so badly that the roof simply is gone, some are tagged with the gangs that control the blocks they are on such as the "8th Block Vicelords".  Dozens more have simply been left to rot, vandals have torn doors off and shattered windows to strip out any valuables.  Here are some images from the first of hopefully many fruitful excursions to Gary.


The snow seems to have rearranged the front awning here.























Other typologies have undoubtedly been made in cities such as Detroit and Flint, Gary needs documenting.  I find a terrific sense of wonder and astonishment at these homes.  The American dream, left with doors open and windows smashed.

Tom Harris

8 comments:

  1. that house with the awning sitting on the porch is outrageous. looks like a gordon matta clark image....nice work.

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  2. I grew up in Gary. What's more remarkable than the ruins is the hope that still survives in the people that still live there. Next time look for joy in the Miller neighborhood instead of devastation downtown.

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    1. I AGREE WITH ANONYMOUS. YOU CAN LOOK AND SHOW THE CRAP BUT ALSO THE HOPE OF PEOPLE (Not all are in Gangs) THAT, FOR LOT OF REASONS, STILL LIVE IN GARY.

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  3. you show only the ugly none of the beauty that is still there!!!!!

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  4. It amazes me that you hope that more touring of Gary will produce more horrible pictures of a city dying. How about you use your blog to resuscitate a city that was once song about? This is a slap in the face to all the hardworking people of Gary and to continue to do it is the equivalent of kicking those people while they're on the ground then spitting on their graves.

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  5. I find the same sense of wonderment in the photos as the artist. Sure, there is always good in the tragic. But people need to see the tragic, so they can enact change.

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  6. Nice work. The sad needs to be seen. Why hide the scars?

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  7. I find the whole scenario fascinating, eerie and incomprehensible! Bobby, New Zealand.

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