A short introduction to the tragic downfall

In the series "Heterotopia, the tragic fall", I am interested in the state of being of places that are radically "other", places that have been ignored, deprived of their meaning and function, places that stand outside of daily experiences.


The places photographed in this series are over-determined as heterotopias. They are fascinating for what they are: spaces of doubt and incompletion. I captured them in a moment of uncertainty, somewhere between life and death, growth and decline, being and non-being, constantly on the edge of deletion. They are sedimentations of time, a time that accumulates and narrows within them. Past and future collide in a temporality that is losing its sense of linearity. Spaces let us see time, this eternal invisible.


Architects frustrate Nature by creating ascending shapes. They strive to overcome the forces of Nature which tend to flatten everything. The series shows this continuing struggle. A struggle that is fundamental for architecture, this tension in the heart of culture and art. A struggle that eventually even monuments lose.


When I see a ruin, I have no doubt it is a ruin. However, when I try to define what a ruin is, I end up facing a significant problem. When does a building become a ruin? What degree of defragmentation makes a building fall into the other category? In ‘the tragic fall’ I found the solution to this quantitative dead-end which was paradoxically a constraint to the definition of what a ruin is.


"The tragic fall" claims that the existence of a place always goes through two moments. From the ascending phase of construction there is a time of glorious youth that is the pride of architects, inevitably followed by a descending phase where Nature characteristically reasserts its rights. This last moment is what I call the "tragic fall". A change more or less violent, plunges the existence of the place from one phase to the other. I call this separating moment "dramatic pivot".


This series uses the narrative structure of tragedies. You can struggle hard, strive to become someone, maybe even become who you are; the noose tightens. But the series captures only the descending semi-circle of existence; it is up to the spectators to imagine the other half of this tragic circle by creating their own version of the places’ glorious youth. To see the tragic fall in everything and within themselves.


The aesthetic of loss and the tension that results in the pure absence of shape, contributes to the tragic denouement of the series. However, the Dionysian forces of Nature take the upper hand to the perfect harmony of Apollonian architecture and give birth to a new order where beauty turns into the sublime. The series praises the slow and meticulous art of time; an inspired worker who magnifies buildings by transforming them into a canvas for Nature. It shows us what would happen if mankind disappeared from the planet. Our civilization would be forgotten almost instantly, covered up with moss. But this is not yet the world we live in, and liberal capitalism reassures us that it is fine if glaciers melt or if the earth warms up. The truth about these places today is that they are traces of the past. Their history is the History of our crises, the History of the failure of utopian projects. These places reveal the dark hidden parts of society, and cast doubts on the self-devouring systems that destroy what they themselves have built.


The "retention power" of photography reminds us of those leftovers, those mistakes. It summons our failures, the forgotten defeated of History. The role of photographers and their "function of ventriloquism" is to give a voice to those who have not been listened to. Heterotopia is a testimony to former monuments that supported great expectations. Ruins have a constructive power: they teach us that humanity makes mistakes. This must not be forgotten. These terrible and monumental mutilations, vestiges of History, remind us of the impermanence of our existence. Is there a more powerful "Vanity" than the monument of decay?