Author Talk: Detroit is No Dry Bones - Camilo Vergara
Join us for an evening of conversation moderated by Taubman College's Interim Dean and Professor Robert Fishman with acclaimed photographer Camilo Vergara about his recent book, "Detroit Is No Dry Bones: The Eternal City of the Industrial Age," a photographic record of almost three decades of Detroit’s changing urban fabric.
Over the past 25 years, award-winning ethnographer and photographer Camilo José Vergara has traveled annually to Detroit to document not only the city’s precipitous decline but also how its residents have survived. From the 1970s through the 1990s, changes in Detroit were almost all for the worse, as the built fabric of the city was erased through neglect and abandonment. But over the last decade Detroit has seen the beginnings of a positive transformation, and the photography in Detroit Is No Dry Bones provides unique documentation of the revival and its urbanistic possibilities. Beyond the fate of the city’s buildings themselves, Vergara’s camera has consistently sought to capture the lives of Detroit’s people. Not only has he shown the impact of depopulation, disinvestment, and abandonment during the worst years of the urban crisis, but he has also shown Detroiters’ resilience. The photographs in this book are organized in part around the way people have re-used and re-purposed structures from the past. One highlight is his documentation of local churches that have re-occupied old bank buildings and other impressive structures from the past and turned them into something unexpectedly powerful, architecturally as well as spiritually.
Camilo José Vergara was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2002 and received a Berlin Prize Fellowship in 2010. In 2013, he became the first photographer to be awarded the National Humanities Medal. He is author of numerous books, including "Silent Cities: The Evolution of the American Cemetery;" "Twin Towers Remembered;" and "Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto."