Unsettling Photos Of Irish Ghost Housing Developments

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In some places in Ireland there are housing developments that stand like lonely sentries, waiting for people who never come. Valérie Anex’s series “Ghost Estates, Ireland, 2011” captures these eerie non-residences and their all but unused communal spaces.

The National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis NIRSA defines a ghost estate as a development of ten houses or more in which fifty per cent or less of homes are occupied or completed. In October 2010, according to official estimates, there were 2846 ghost estates and more than 350 000 vacant homes throughout the Republic of Ireland.

Even completed and populated these estates would be odd Stepford-like places, with their rows of identical buildings spreading across the countryside. Lived in, though, they would adapt and change, influenced by their residents. Landscaping, additions, a new front door color— eventually the sameness of the buildings would subside. Empty, though, the monotony is numbing. Anex’s photos are stark and documentary in style. The repetition of the house forms, a superfluous real-life copy and paste, benefit from their pragmatic composition. Anex doesn’t rely on fancy tricks or filters to evoke the paralysis of these places—the empty eyed windows and rubble-strewn lawns become increasingly disturbing with each image in the series.

These empty shells are eyesores for the locals in these small towns. The crisis is affecting the country – unemployment, debts, budget cuts, flights of capital investments – but it is also shaping its landscape. Bitter memories left by the spectral and temporary nature of the property boom in Ireland, ghost estates are the symbol of the property market’s collapse, a topology of the economic disintegration of the country.

There are some residents in these ghost estates, though Anex has chosen not to include them in her photos. Tana French’s chilling 2013 novel, Broken Harbor, is set in such a place. In that book, madness and murder and awful fear take place among the mostly empty and unfinished houses of an Irish ghost estate. Looking at these photos, it doesn’t seem a stretch. It can’t be comfortable to live in such a place, with unfinished houses and absent lives. (via Slate)

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Michael Craig-Martin’s Wall Paintings Transform Everyday Objects Into The Extraordinary

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Michael Craig-Martin has been creating art since the 1960s. His wall painting installations from the 1990s and 2000s feel current with their bright colors and flat appearance, but some of the items in the paintings, ubiquitous at the time they were captured, are now relics. Among the shoes and pails rendered in black tape outlines are Nokia style cell phones and milk bottles. That doesn’t diminish the charm of these installations. Craig-Martin’s intent was to make these works in a generic style, even attempting to erase his personality from the works by using tape as outlines instead of pencil drawings. It didn’t work. The purposeful non-style of painted mass-produced items executed meticulously in a vibrant palette at enlarged scale has become one of Craig-Martin’s signatures. The choice of everyday objects for his wall installations was a purposeful one.

“I thought the objects we value least because they were ubiquitous were actually the most extraordinary. … I wanted people to realise how extraordinary everyday objects are, and think about what image-making is. The impulse was never nostalgia, kitsch or a critique of consumerism.” (Source)

Photos of the installations can only capture part of their impact. Walking around a corner only to be confronted with an enormous pink desk lamp is part of the experience, as are the shifting views of eyeglasses and belts through the arches of a candy-colored room. Only when standing next to a seven-foot extinguisher can the scale of the articles be truly appreciated.

Though he is often called a conceptual artist, Craig-Martin prefers to be called radical. It’s not just about the concept for him—the making that comes from the idea is equally important. “Throughout his career, through work in many different media, he has explored the expressive potential of commonplace objects and images.”

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Visual Dictionary- Unusual Words Explained Through Witty Illustrations

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Scripturient: Possessing a violent desire to write.

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Acersecomic: A person whose hair has never been cut.

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Biblioclasm: The practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, books or other written material and media.

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Dactylion: An anatomical landmark located at the tip of the middle finger.

“A-Z of Unusual Words” is a self-initiated project by Irish based graphic art duo The Project Twins. It depicts “strange, unusual and lost words” explained through a set of beautifully crafted minimal illustrations and visual wit.

According to the artists, James and Michael Fitzgerald, “the images explore the meaning behind the words, which are sometimes even more strange and unusual”. The bold and simple aesthetics of these illustrations resemble Bauhaus’ style of conduct through style and form.

The artist statement of Project Twins points out: “Curiosity, humor and wit are a predominant feature in their work. <…> They are interested in observations and oddities and enjoy taking the familiar and turning it into the surprising. The series of “A-Z of Unusual Words” has been exhibited during Design Week Dublin in 2011 and was also awarded a Merit in the 3X3 Proshow and featured in 3X3 Illustration Annual 2012.

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