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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Guardian readers weigh in on images of Detroit

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 2:30 PM



You gotta love Camilo José Vergara. The photojournalist cut his teeth working for alt-weeklies like Metro Times back in the 1980s. It's all part of his larger obsession: documenting America's inner cities, a task he's worked on since the 1970s, and was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant for. He recently uploaded the bulk of his work to the Library of Congress, which may explain why slideshows of his work are making the rounds. 



I guess we could have done one here, although anybody curious about his work can just go to the LoC and see for themselves (or peruse a story we did on him way back in 2006). 

Still, what's more interesting is that, given the spate of Vergara slideshows (the Guardian put slideshows together for his photos of L.A. and of New York as well), the Detroit one sparked the liveliest discussion, and even accusations of "ruin porn" (which must have amused Vergara as he thought enough of it to mention it to us).

Why would his Detroit slideshow be called ruin porn, anyway? Vergara has an obvious fondness for American cities, although that may not come through when an overworked web editor is throwing together click-bait with a paragraph containing multiple errors and gross oversimplification to lead into it.

And yet, it's interesting to see the commenters chime in on the "death" of Detroit. One says, "The British media's obsession with recession porn continues" — which is likely what caught Vergara's eye.

Another commenter adds, "Actually, the decline began in the 1960s. Also, I think that edgy fotogs need to find another subject for essays on urban decrepitude. Detroit has been done countless times."

Lacking eloquence but more than making up for it in earnestness, one commenter says, "There are people living in Detroit today. They are there, this evening, as I write this. I am in communication with a number of them. They are not only survivors, they ARE the soul of Detroit. In their name, one requires the header on the article (The death of Detroit) be amended. Detroit is a great American tragedy. Requiring of a great American turn-around. It will happen. God willing, I will be a part of it. And .. who is REALLY of it: these people living in the Delray section .. and way over at Eight Mile Road ... Detroit is huge. That´s because America´s dream was huge. And will be, again."

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