Chris Mottalini's new publication After You Left/ They Took It Apart brings together photographs taken by Mottalini in three homes designed by Paul Rudolph just days prior to their demolition. Unlike the archetypal photographic 'ruin porn' that relishes the poetics of gradual destruction, these photographs seem to act in the reverse. Mottalini's photos stand not as ruin glorified but as denunciation of impending architectural loss. First and foremost these photographs capture the buildings in a way that highlights their intended form, a testimony to architectural care that makes the neglect appear more brutal.
The strong geometry of the modernist architecture appears to oppose the past and future damage done to it, making it all the more sad that these buildings were then totally razed. Mottalini's photos blend cool architectural admiration with a more intimate focus, carpet dents are given as much attention as the grander aspects of these homes. The images intrigue, wavering between photos that could have been taken by a new proud home owner (albeit for the damage), photos that could have been taken for an insurance claim and others that are clear meditations on the expressiveness of the materials and light within these spaces.
Looking at Mottalini's photos I can't help but think of John Divola's Los Angeles International Airport Noise Abatement Zone series from 1975-76 that still resonates strongly as a meditation on waste, abandonment and destruction. I have no doubt that Mottalini's work will also across time continue to impact due to the veracity and calibre of his images. His specific and heartfelt focus on a single architect lends this publication richness in so many ways.
Chris Mottalini's talks about After You Left/ They Took It Apart on the Lenscratch website: lenscratch.com/2013/10/chris-mottalini/
After You Left/ They Took It Apart (Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes)
Published by Columbia College Chicago Press, October 2013
75 pages 44 colour plates
10 x 8in
View book here on the website of the University of Chicago Press
Chris Mottalini was featured in Issue 4 of Excerpt Magazine page 19 - 22
This entry is part of a collection of posts on The Weight of the Past. More works that address this will be posted in the coming days.