Stages of Decay Hardcover – 29 Mar 2013
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...astute location selection and vivid, colourful photography....a fascinating juxtaposition of the opulent and the dilapidated. --Amateur Photographer Magazine, July 2013
From the Inside Flap
This unnervingly poetic collection of photographs by Julia Solis depicts the fading glamour of an entire range of international theaters, ranging from the remnants of ornate movie palaces to shabby vaudeville houses. Where acclaimed performers such as the Marx Brothers, Mae West, Johnny Cash, and the Who once thrilled audiences, Solis now assumes the perspective of the spectator witnessing a different kind of performance. Haunted by the memory of former glory, these locations are sensitively and beautifully captured at a new stage of their existence, one that takes place long after the final curtain has dropped.See all Product description
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She re-emerged from the underworld to cast her (and her camera's) eye at a very different type of abandoned and forgotten spaces, namely cinemas and theatres. For her new book, the aptly titled Stages of Decay, Solis travelled the USA and Germany to record a wide range of abandoned performance venues. They include former cinemas and theatres, school stages, social clubs, hotel auditoria, army barracks' screens and hospital auditoria. Three introductory texts evocatively set the scene for this book. Of particular appeal with this volume is the fact that Solis does not portray the decaying 3,000-plus-seat behemoths with lavish Art Deco detailing. Many of the venues presented here are of more modest proportions and designs, and yet, none of them without their very own charm and the distinct echo of past glory days. Solis reveals a broad cross section of this unique type of venue, each reminiscent of numerous days of thrills and fun spent in front of (and on) the stage and screen. Be they lavish or mundane, vast or compact, they all get a spotlight to showcase their crumbling charm and their myriad of stories, hidden underneath peeling paint and the worn-through upholstery of aging tip-up seats.
The concise image captions (i.e. venue names and general location only) are collected in an appendix rather than displayed next to each photograph. The author may have wanted to let the images speak for themselves, but having to refer to the back pages for every single image is cumbersome, especially since their page numbers are absent.
Still, it is hard not to be affected by these photographs. The crumbling, neglected charm mixed with the myriad of anecdotes held within those walls make for a powerful mix. Only few of these buildings -the most significant- could feasibly be expected to be saved from the wrecking ball, to be regenerated and brought back to vibrant life. While it feels like each image represents a loss, Solis' photographs let the reader discover the beauty in the seemingly mundane and largely forgotten, the show palaces of small town and non-commercial entertainment.
[Review originally published in *The Cinematograph* magazine of the Cinema Heritage Group.]
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