I recently watched Columbus, a film about two drifters of different ages and backgrounds who bond over a common sense of displacement. The picture, artfully directed by Kogonada; is set in Columbus, IN a mecca for modernist architecture located in the Midwest. Kogonada captures the city with such precision and beauty that I knew I needed to see the city for myself.
Accompanied by two close friends, Matthew Garsky and Clayton Fuller; we left on an early April Saturday. After a quick stop in Indianapolis (for coffee, breakfast and a roll of film) we arrived. We were immediately met with the slowness and stillness of the place. Columbus, IN is a small town populated by ordinary people. At first it was difficult to adjust to this pace of life, but as the day went on I found myself pulled in to the story being told by the buildings and their history.
Most often elite architecture is only found in communities of wealthy, educated people or large cities. Places of art, culture and society. Here however, world class architecture is placed among a small, simple community. Ordinary buildings of daily life (a bank, church, library, public park, etc.) have been designed with care and detail by master Architects including Eero Saarinen, Robert venturi and E. M. Pei. The quietness and smallness of the town, which at first made me unsettled; began to give beauty and purpose to the place. This was offset by a sense of sadness; many of these buildings were constructed between the 60's and 70's. Times of great hope in the future alongside a growing sense of reality and doubt. The city has not been able to properly maintain the buildings, and many now exist in a state of disrepair and vacancy. They have become metaphors for a past hope in the future we now exist in, still broken and in pain.
As we drove home, I found myself deeply affected by Columbus, IN, although not in the ways I was expecting. I am Inspired by the beauty of art and design made available to everyone, but reminded of the current state of our world despite the hope of the past. Below are a series of images I photographed using my Canon F1 on Fujifilm Acros 100 & 400H, followed by a short poem I wrote on the drive home.
Buildings shaped in past,
Remind of a different era’s hope.
Beauty is hidden,
To be felt not seen,