The Stash – 2018
I generally feel fairly safe when photographing these deserted buildings since they are often devoid of life but there are a few locations where even after a building is no longer occupied, life continues to thrive. Sometimes it’s a bird that flew in through a broken pane of glass or a family of raccoons that crawled into the attic but these types of intruders are far more scared of you than you are of them. Then there are the people that go to these places after they become disused, more often than not it’s photographers or “urban explorers” who like to visit these places for various reasons and generally do not pose a threat to the buildings themselves. There are also the vandals, taggers and scrappers, who do not have good intentions and end up leaving these spaces in worse condition than before they arrived. The third type of person you can find in these places, although far less common, are the drug addicts and the squatters. They are usually harmless and generally stay away from any other visitors but they can be unpredictable and therefore should be avoided.
I visited this urban hotel and knew that it had a bit of a reputation beforehand and had heard that squatters were currently using the space. During this visit I was not exploring alone and so with caution I wandered the hallways of this 100+ year old hotel taking note that many of the doors to the rooms were closed, I avoided those parts initially since I didn’t want to walk in on someone that called the 15×15 foot space home. After having seen most of the building with a general idea of the areas I wanted to photograph, I walked through the space again to see what was behind some of the closed doors. Knocking first before opening doors, I did not find anything that different from the other rooms. There were definitely signs of squatters throughout the hotel with half eaten food laying around amongst the used needles and other drug paraphernalia, but fortunately nobody was there at the time.
I returned two weeks later taking note of the changes that had taken place since my last visit, a lot more items were strewn about, a blanket now hung in the doorway of the entrance to the building and four litre bottles of water sat on the window sills of the once quiet building. This time I was alone and I was even more hesitant to enter but I did so anyway since I wanted to photograph some of the areas I had missed during my previous visit. It was hot, easily above 35C with the humidex and I thought to myself there is no way anyone would be inside this sweltering building on such a hot day, so I continued. As I walked down a hallway I passed about three doorways before I saw a man in his underwear laying down on a bed inside one of the rooms, at first I thought he was asleep but then I saw him twitch and he continued to move about restlessly, that was enough for me and I decided it was best to make a hasty retreat back to the safety of the city streets. I would still like to return to this location before the wrecking ball moves in but unfortunately, I think that window of opportunity has come and gone.
But first let’s toast to the lists
That we hold in our fists
Of the things that we promise to do
Differently next time
– Ani DiFranco, Marrow
Ten green bottles hanging on the wall… (feat. orbs)
They meant well, yet they didn’t last. And now that every European explorer seems to stomp around the place, they won’t get much money for it anymore either.