138 Square Miles
Foreword by Elmore Leonard.
Published by Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit
Over the past six years, documentary photographer and architectural historian Julia Reyes Taubman has taken more than 30,000 photographs across the sprawled terrain of Detroit, ambitiously mapping out a comprehensive survey of a major American city. Photographing on the ground, in the buildings and by air and water, Reyes Taubman believes that when buildings and landscape are manipulated by nature and time they become more visually compelling than almost any architectural intervention. Reyes Taubman is not pessimistic, however: “It is not a disgrace but a privilege and an obligation to listen to the stories only ruins can tell,” she writes in regard to this project. “They tell us a lot about who we were, what we once valued most, and perhaps where we may be going.” As Reyes Taubman scrutinizes this 138-square-mile metropolis in transition, she pays particular attention to the scale and the solidity of the buildings that characterized the former “Motor City” at the height of its industrial wealth and power. More than a photographic saturation job of a single city, Detroit: 138 Square Miles provides contextual perspective in an extended caption section in which Reyes Taubman collaborated with University of Michigan professors Robert Fishman and Michael McCulloch to emphasize the social imperatives driving her documentation. An essay by native Detroiter and bestselling author Elmore Leonard addresses the social and cultural significance of the post-industrial condition of this metropolis. The volume's spine is specially treated with black ink to evoke the industrial character of its subject.
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