One of my travel goals for this year was to pay more attention to my surroundings on my way to somewhere else. I did have something specific in mind…
Old buildings and ruins have always made me pause and contemplate, but for a while now I’ve been drawn to old rural establishments and the way they’ve fallen into disrepair/disgrace. I used to pay little attention when driving through villages – they may not all be the same, but so many of them are very similar, especially if they’re in the same region.
But once out of one’s shell, it’s impossible not to notice the contrasts and paradoxes, together with some strange scars evolution has left on these places. It’s perfectly understandable why many inhabitants would have left their villages in search of a better life over the past decades. It’s certainly understandable why, if they returned, they would want a big, modern, comfortable home. Yet I can’t help feeling sad when seeing the old, small, picturesque rural homes in the style of the area, falling apart or being destroyed to make room for some garish structure which would make the owner proud. It’s even sadder to realize that some of the more deteriorated houses are still inhabited – too many people have no other choice and literally no hope or chance in life, sometimes through no fault of their own.
Some time ago I was driving through a village I had seen many times before. It suddenly dawned on me how rapidly it was changing, how very little of its original charm was left. Like I said, it was a sign of prosperity, evolution is unstoppable. Evolution also tends to become uncontrollable and sometimes destructive, if improperly supervised. It wouldn’t be long before these little places would morph into something entirely different, I thought to myself. Something I always thought would be there was on the verge of extinction. Well, at least that’s how it felt…. That’s how it still feels sometimes.
While I’m a city girl, I can still vividly remember my weekends in the countryside, visiting my great-grandmother as a child. I admit, in spite of the many aspects I enjoyed, I didn’t really understand how people could live there – it was such a rough life. Like I said, city girl… But I kept going back for my great-grandmother, but also because there was something magical, enthralling about that place and the life of its inhabitants. Just imagine, everybody said hello to everybody, even to people they had never seen before, and it was rude not to do so. Meanwhile, I wasn’t allowed to talk to strangers at home. Those and many more conflicting rules were charming to a child.
But I digress. Perhaps it’s the memory of my grandmother, who used to live in a typical, well-tended to rural home, followed by seeing the same house in ruins and not being able to do anything about it; or perhaps it’s some sort of nostalgia. I don’t know, but I could no longer ignore the idea of photographing some of these houses whenever I had the chance. Fortunately one can find many such homes in decent shape, properly maintained, not at all like the derelict ones in some of my photos. I think I finally have enough images to create a short series. I’m not keeping it completely rural, I’ll include some small town images I found interesting – when one doesn’t need to drive, one can indulge in taking photos of houses on the side of the road.
I hope you enjoy this little project of mine and the essence of the idea, in spite of the far from perfect images.