In a continuation of my previous work in “DETROIT: UNBROKEN DOWN” which documented the lives of struggling residents, “DETROIT NOCTURNE” relies more heavily on the absence of the people who inhabit Detroit, but this is not to say that I’m not aware of their presence. These photographs represent a visual document that speaks to the quiet determination of its residents, both as independent shop operators and as home owners who have survived the long and difficult path of living in a post-industrial city stripped of economic prosperity and opportunity. In many rust-belt cities like Detroit, people’s lives often hang in the balance as neighborhoods support and provide for each other through job creation, ad hoc community involvement, moral and spiritual support, and a well honed Do It Yourself mentality.
With all the media attention about Detroit’s rebirth and revival, it’s important to note that many neighborhoods throughout the city have been surviving for years, relying on local merchants and businesses that operate on a cash only basis that have stuck it out through decades of economic decline. Relying on a strong sense of self-preservation, individuals struggle to survive by maintaining a healthy sense of connection without the fear of giving up. All of these establishments, whether large or small, are in many ways a marker of the ongoing story that is Detroit, and a testament to the tenacity of the cities residents who are trying desperately to hold on to what is left of the social and economic fabric of the city.
These photographs speak to that truth without casting an overly sentimental gaze. I’ve chosen to make these images at night not only to put more emphasis on their locale by presenting them in an unfamiliar light, but also to introduce a moment of quiet and calm reflection. Pieces of the past, present, and future are rendered here to carefully consider. They are after all the physical evidence of where we have carved our collective ambitions and lived out our dreams.
Book By Dave Jordano