“When shot right, a stairwell or an atmospheric urbex shot can turn into something very special, almost a piece of art.
That’s the exactly what i want to show people;
The beauty of decay, the Art of Urbex.”
On the Dutch photographer’s website Niki Feijen defers to Wikipedia, to the Internet’s all-around intellectual authority, in defining Urban Exploring (Urbex): “the exploration of man-made structure, usually abandoned ruins”. While Mr. Feijen’s use of a definition does him no disservice, his photographs speak volumes more about what Urbex is in and of itself, while also informing the viewer of why urban exploration is growing in popularity. I mean, wouldn’t you like to see these places yourself?
Looking at Mr. Feijen’s photographs I am stuck with how able he is to make every location appear as if it was made-up to look a bit dirty and shabby, not unused/unseen for years on end. Naturally, these are buildings, made of bricks, mortar, wood, stone and they are doing what they have always done, stood where they are waiting for humans to occupy them and to give them greater purpose. One could ask why any single one of them was not torn down in the past, but looking at these pictures I am led to believe that we are better off still having them around. A great hall’s symmetrical stairwells, the colorful geometry of another set of stairs (Mr. Feijen admits to having a “crazy stairs addiction”) or the holiness of a Madonna bathed in stained-glass-light all take on a new meaning when deprived of people. Is this the beauty that surrounds us, is this what we take for granted in our daily lives?
I don’t necessarily think that many of us are walking through spaces this beautiful in our everyday life, but if you do let me encourage you to enjoy it.
And though Mr. Feijen’s photos are all set in Europe he has established himself as the leading documenter of this growing worldwide movement. And who would be surprised that Urbex is so popular right now, given the global urbanization trends, the ready availability of top-of-the-line camera equipment, and, of course, the enormous audience that wants to see photos of these triumphant journeys too. And while people might never care about the names of the people who took these photos, perhaps they will be inspired to get over their fears – of the sign that says “NO TRESPASSING”, of the hardly-secure stairwell, of the dark – and go on an urban expedition one day on their own. They might not have the eye to capture disused architecture so well as Mr. Feijen, but, by God, they will have an experience for themselves – and their own pictures to show off, to boot.
Head over to Mr. Feijen‘s website to see more pictures – or head right to the Gallery section to view more than two hundred stunning portraits of Urbex. And don’t worry…you can order prints for the wannabe Urbexer in your life, as well.