In: ben marcin photography

Philadelphia, PA, 2013 from Last House Standing by Ben Marcin
October 10, 2021


Philadelphia, PA, 2013 from Last House Standing by Ben Marcin

I spent a significant part of my formative years in the Windsor – Detroit area. When I visited Detroit, stepping outside of the immediate downtown into the areas that still bore the scars of history, I was often struck by singular houses – occupied or not, officially or otherwise – that stood like sentinels, like final gatekeepers, of areas that were empty and desolate. At that time, living near the Ambassador Bridge in Canada, the neighbourhood was picturesque and somewhat historic if a bit leaning towards dereliction: now, nearly three decades later, that section of Windsor is rife with shuttered houses, boarded up and abandoned. 

Ben Marcin’s Last House Standing series is literally that: singular buildings, from Baltimore, New Jersey or – like this image – Philadelphia. These are all places with equally iconic stature as Detroit, and Marcin’s ‘figures’ alternately evoke gravestones or lone survivors, barely holding on, amidst the wastelands that have crept and grown up around them. Many seem like tombs; others bring an incongruous element of vitality with their vibrant colours, evoking T.S. Eliot’s ‘these fragments I have shored against my ruins’ (appropriately from his opus, The Wasteland). 

Marcin also revisits sites. Thus, buildings that were barely holding on in 2011 are now gone, like they’ve never been, in 2020. 

More of this series by Marcin can be seen here, at his site, or at his Instagram. ~ Bart Gazzola

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