Julia Reyes Taubman: Detroit: 138 Square Miles

Julia Reyes Taubman (Photographer) Elmore Leonard (Foreword by)


Please note: The spine of this volume is specially treated with black ink to evoke the industrial character of its subject.

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.--Janet Tyson "Cassone"

Product Details

$80.00  $73.60
Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit
Publish Date
December 31, 2011
11.28 X 2.13 X 9.16 inches | 6.72 pounds

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Ultimately, this mix of images and the receptions they stimulate is what sets Taubman's book apart from compilations of ruin porn. She reminds readers of the people who were employed by and served by the derelict factories and schools shown herein, who live in the houses that remain and in the houses that used to occupy what now are vacant lots. Yet, even these compassionately framed photographs freeze their subjects in time and isolate them from narrative context: it is simply the nature of the medium.
With any luck, this exquisitely packaged collection of images might inspire some real action and positive answers. It might spark philanthropy and investment. Perhaps artists will see it and move to Detroit, where they can find the sort of inexpensive spaces that Brooklyn used to offer. Or it might stir local pride, assail apathy and arouse curiosity. There's only so much a book of pictures can do, however. This one does its part. The rest is up to those who look inside the covers.--Janet Tyson "Cassone "
'Detroit: 138 Square Miles' by Julia Reyes Taubman just may be one of the finest photo documentary books of a modern America ever produced. It takes us into some of this country's finest stuctures built at a time when Detroit stood as a symbol to the world of American ingenuity and a testament to the possibilities of mankind. Not only does it celebrate this great city, it humanizes it, and gives us its people along with its places.
If you like cities, you'll love this book.--Jason Sheftell "Daily News "
A thorough, meticulous survey, the book not only captures the destruction but finds factories still puffing out smoke. The swaths of urban prairie are punctuated by scenes of citizens in bars abd bowling alleys. An image of an east-side neighborhood shows stuffed animals tied to a utility pole in a style synonymous with makeshift memorials - a reminder that the ghost city exists allongside one still fighting for its life.--Editors "The Wall Street Journal "
She'd spent seven years taking pictures of abandoned buildings and other derelict tableaux... She took thirty-five thousand photographs and chose four hundred. They make you want to go there but maybe not stay.--Nick Paumgarten "The New Yorker "
Of the extensive books of photographs published about Detroit in the past year that present--Ms. Taubman's Detroit: 138 Square Miles (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 480 pages, $65.00, Dec. 31, 2011) is the first to document the city and its flaws, but also to demonstrate that, for better or worse, there is life among those ruins.--Micheal H Miller "The Observer "
The end product, the book itself, belies criticism that this is a socialite's vanity project. It bears sober witness to Detroit's greatness and its status as forgotten city -- authentic, harshly treated, evolving rapidly as its housing stock crumbles and its once-heroic monuments fall to fire, wrecking ball and neglect.--Laura Berman "The Detroit News "
...enormous, impressive photography book--Mike Vilensky "The Wall Street Journal "
Although she didn't intend to create a book when she started, the results of her obsession with documenting the city in all its faded glory have now been collected in a substantial, exquisitely produced volume, Detroit: 138 Square Miles (MoCAD).--Ted Loos "Vogue "