Luthringer, Mark

Mark Luthringer, Oakland California, USA

Hancock Fabrics Has Moved to theTarget Center Artist Statement

With these images, my aim is not architectural preservation. I am trying to preserve - in photographs - the sweet melancholy of these places brought out by neglect, decay, obsolescence, and unintended results. At the same time I intend to dissect the notion of nostalgia, which is another way of describing the ‘sweet melancholy’ mentioned above. While nostalgia may be a simple amelioration of the past as we look back, it is also a morbid fascination with aging, death, and the insignificance of our lives in geologic time. We seem to take a strange comfort in thoughts of our own mortality.

The modernist (and by extension, utopian) overtones of some of this architecture make its decay and abandonment even more poignant to me. Utopianism can function as a reverse nostalgia, and to look back at these sites with nostalgia completes a circle: We are living the future that some of this architecture alludes to and tried to embrace.

Making these pictures has helped me see that the history of a building is also the history of the ground where it stands, its neighborhood, its city, etc. as well as that of its builders, designers, owners, tenants, residents, etc. Like a time capsule left out in the open, a building can channel the period when it was born, but perhaps through aging, all that it witnesses is recorded, treated and later transmitted when the building is observed, contemplated, or photographed.

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