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Abandoned Planet Adventures in Urban Decay
December 1, 2014
Abandoned Planet Adventures in Urban Decay is the life’s work of intrepid urban explorer Andre Govia who’s love of trespassing on and exploring the secrets within abandoned buildings, blossomed into the pictorial adventure we are privy to in this book.
The written content is minimal with a brief half page introduction and little information on the buildings we are being led through, perhaps this is to add to the feeling of uneasiness evoked by the dreamlike imagery. There are no notes anywhere on the location of the images, Govia occasionally adds a few words, retelling thoughts and feelings experienced at the time or adding brief descriptions or explanations, but most of the narration is in the imagery. One highlight is an image of rotting beds within the mental hospital, the walls of which Govia tells us once housed Charlie Chaplin’s mother and the brothers of Michael Caine and David Bowie.
The images themselves are breathtaking, Govia has spent fourteen years capturing the most startlingly beautiful derelict buildings and locations from over nine-hundred locations in twenty-two countries. Quietly horrific interiors from dilapidated sanatoriums, mental institutions, swimming pools, manor houses, car graveyards, old churches and prisons wait to greet the eyes as the pages turn. The states in which Govia finds these empty vessels varies from rotting into disrepair and clearly dangerous to have entered, to untouched as if the inhabitants were likely to reenter the room if not for the telltale layer of dust.
There is also something unsettling about the treatment of the images. An effect akin to HDR has been used to bring out the detail giving Govia’s photography a very distinct stylised feel that creates a ghostly sense of surreality. You can’t help but feel a strong sense of melancholia and nostalgia as you imagine these places in their heyday and wonder what possessed the inhabitants to up and leave without their possessions?
Described in a word, this book is haunting. There is a real awareness of just how untouched these places are and the long absence of human life leaves you feeling more than a little uneasy. Imagery that will stay with you long after you have closed the book.
Abandoned Planet Adventures in Urban Decay by Andre Govia, Carpet Bombing Culture, 240 pages, Hardback, £24.95 available from carpetbombingculture.co.uk/shop/abandoned-planet.
Maxine Kirsty Sapsford, Arts Editor