Photography

Nick Jaskey's "Signs of Life" Is a Profound Look at a Complicated City

November 17, 2017

Nick Jaskey recently released a collection of photos from the last 15 years, taken in and around his hometown of Detroit. In his book, titled Signs of Life, Jaskey captures some of the less analyzed pieces of the oft photographed post-industrial landscape of Detroit. Check out a short selection of photos from the book below.

The legendary artist Barry McGee states in the foreword of the book: "the images collected here explore the fact that we as humans are a product of our environment, and our environment is also a product of us... a civilization gone awry."

McGee's insight provides a strong frame of reference for reading through this book. While many photo projects regarding Detroit focus solely on the run down buildings, abandoned homes, and broken down cars, Jaskey points his lens towards the beautiful pieces of human community that remain, all while barely photographing any actual people. He looks towards the messages written on walls, murals with no "budget," tires placed on top of eachother, junk piled in a certain way, made as expression, intentionally or not. He documents the literal and figurative signs of life in Detroit, a city that retains its strength and resilience in the face of devastating economic changes. At the same time, he doesn't aim his analysis towards the "urban revival" that people normally describe as "breathing new life" into this historic and living city. He focuses on real, uncommodifiable, unmonetizable humanity, as it is found in the parts of the city that have existed, and will continue to exist, outside of the national or international eye.

Copies of Signs of Life can be ordered online here.