Monuments to a ruined age

The Japanese island of Hashima regularly crops up in online discussions of the ruins of the industrial age. A rocky island, ‘populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility,’ it’s featured regularly in documentaries and photographic essays, the inaccessibility of the site only adding to the romanticism of the place. A very glossy project by Bryan James, Hashima Island, is online, as is Gunkanjima, by French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre was published last year, while the site Gakuran also has an extensive feature. The island is even available on Google Streetview, so it’s exactly lost to the world. Most recently, the photographer Andrew Meredith (blog) has recently completed a major photographic survey of Hashima. The above is Hashima – Gunkanjima, Japan. A film by Erwin Schulz, made to accompany Meredith’s trip (and we’ve used that title before, we’re sure of it). The images are also featured in the new issue of Blueprint Magazine, dovetailing nicely with Shumi Bose’s article on Tate Britain’s new show, Ruin Lust, an interview with curator (and Cabinet magazine stalwart), Brian Dillon:

There’s that sense of devastation and horror, but there’s also an aesthetic distance. That ambiguity is one of the things that drew me to the topic. Ruins are never wholly prurient or nostalgic, horrific or mournful; it’s always this complicated mix.

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