In a continuation of Dave Jordano’s critically-acclaimed Detroit: Unbroken Down (powerHouse Books, 2015), which documented the lives of residents, Detroit Nocturne is an artist’s book not of people this time, but instead the places within which they live and work: structures, dwellings, and storefronts. Made at night, these photographs speak to the quiet resolve of Detroit’s neighborhoods and its stewards: independent shop proprietors and 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 attitude. With all the media attention about Detroit’s rebirth and revival, it is important to note that many neighborhoods throughout the city have managed to survive against the odds for years, relying on local merchants and businesses that operate on a cash only basis who have stuck it out through decades of economic decline.
Determination and a strong sense of self-preservation: Detroit’s citizens manage to survive by maintaining a healthy sense of connection without the fear of giving up. All of these places of business and residences, whether large or small, are in many ways symbols representing the ongoing story that is Detroit, and a testament to the tenacity of those 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.
These nocturnal images offer a chance to view the locations in an unfamiliar light, and offer a moment of quiet and calm reflection.