All There Is


These photographs were made in and around three apartment complexes on a former Air Force base in northern New York. The properties had been unoccupied for nearly ten years, and they were steadily encroached upon by foliage and fauna.  

As I walked through the overgrown yards and into the abandoned buildings there was evidence everywhere of nature’s unrelenting persistence. Trees and bushes blocked doorways and windows. Birds and insects nested in rooms, and raccoons, skunks, foxes and groundhogs traveled freely throughout.

I discovered enduring traces of human nature, too. A picture-hanging nail left in the wall of a child’s bedroom. A piece of scotch tape stuck to a window. Coffee cup rings stained on a kitchen counter top. Vestiges of what Marilynne Robinson, in her book, Housekeeping, called the “density of presence.”

I found myself returning again and again to visit these banal buildings. As I sought out new subjects I would often say to myself, “Is this all there is?” In time, I realized it was.