Photo: Camilo José Vergara

In the fall of 2012, the National Building Museum presents two photography exhibitions exploring the meaning of Detroit, Michigan. In Detroit Disassembled the artist Andrew Moore offers dramatic, classically-inspired images of the ruins found in the Motor City. Detroit Is No Dry Bones, by documentarian Camilo José Vergara, is a portrait of urban flux incorporating sequences of photos taken over two decades. In contrasting approaches to Detroit, Moore shows ruins returning to the earth and Vergara shows a transient city of reinvention. The exhibitions are on view in adjacent galleries from September 30, 2012 through February 18, 2013.

The spectacle of Detroit’s decay has been widely circulated by the traditional press, online, and through social media, triggering debates over what can and should be done for the city. Its post-industrial ruins and abandoned landscapes are seen by many as eyesores in need repair or redevelopment, while outside artists and urban explorers make pilgrimages to the same locations. At the same time, both old and new residents are taking a DIY approach to redefining Motown, starting new businesses, farms, and organizing for positive change. Once the largest and most important manufacturing center of the 20th century, Detroit is a complex shrinking city that has become many cities in one, or in Vergara's words "The Eternal City of the Industrial Age."

Detroit Disassembled: Photographs by Andrew Moore

Detroit Is No Dry Bones: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara

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