I have always felt that it is also the responsibility of any serious photographer to dedicate a portion of their time on a series spanning months or years for the benefit of society. Such a project does not guarantee to make you famous, yet alone rich, it just may make you a better photographer.
Having worked on numerous series which have spanned from 2-3 years to even 9 years and still a work in progress, resulting in a record that has documented the subtle changes reflected in the people and geography. Such a body of work is that of Ben Marcin’s series Last House Standing. Hehas not only documented the plight and abandonment of eastern seaboard urban landscape but also made a personal photographic statement.
Ben’s journey took place mostly in Baltimore, Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but also to Camden, New Jersey, where he captured the lonely, isolated remains of a better time.
Artist Statement on Marcin’s series ‘Last House Standing’
One of the architectural quirks of certain cities on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. is the solo row house. Standing alone, in some of the worst neighborhoods, these nineteenth century structures were once attached to similar row houses that made up entire city blocks. Time and major demographic changes have resulted in the decay and demolition of many such blocks of row houses. Occasionally, one house is spared - literally cut off from its neighbors and left to the elements with whatever time it has left.
My interest in these solitary buildings is not only in their ghostly beauty but in their odd placement in the urban landscape. Often three stories high, they were clearly not designed to stand alone like this. Many details that might not be noticed in a homogenous row of twenty attached row houses become apparent when everything else has been torn down. And then there's the lingering question of why a single row house was allowed to remain upright. Still retaining traces of its former glory, the last house standing is often still occupied.
All photographs by ©2013-2014 Ben Marcin - All Rights Reserved