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4 August 2009

Eugene Richards, The blue room

The Blue Room, Eugene Richards’ first work in colour, is a moving and eloquent study of the abandoned and forgotten houses of rural America.

Abandoned houses stand mute and solitary in out-of-the-way places, wherever things seemingly haven’t worked out for people. To those quickly passing by, the timeworn structures can be seen as fearful places, places to avoid. Yet there are those who are inexorably drawn to them. To Eugene Richards, they are heirlooms, evidence of past lives, time machines.

Over the course of three and a half years, travelling thousands of miles on the back roads of America, Richards has created a body of photographs that speaks of the beauty of these houses and inspires us to imagine the lives of the people who once lived in them. ‘As I slowly make my way through the collapsing rooms and begin sifting through what’s been left behind’, he writes, ‘the old places spawn what can only be called memories that come and go in the fragments of broken glass, in the convergence of shadows and light, in the dust rising up from the floors’. The Blue Room is a personal journey, a way of seeing and a meditation on the fragility of life and the transient nature of things.

Text from The Blue Room, Phaidon, 2008.

Pictures printed by Laumont, New York.

Framing by Circad, Paris.

In 1986, his photographs of his wife Dorothea’s struggle with breast cancer generated real emotion when they were shown at the Théâtre Antique. 

Exhibition venue: Atelier de Forges, Rencontres d’Arles 2009.