Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre first gained recognition for their remarkable book, The Ruins of Detroit. The company Eiffage Construction hired the photographers to document the of l’Hôtel-Dieu hospital, in Lyon, France. These are their reflections on what they saw:
“We often work in condemned buildings. There is a sense of urgency to capture their state. For the Hôtel-Dieu, we thought at first that it would be interesting just to capture a monument in a state of transition. That was before we visited the building.
Wandering through its passageways, rooms and gardens, we were struck the unique character of the space before us. It was a labyrinth: thousands of rooms, many of them forgotten, others bearing traces of medical use. The gardens had run wild, the stairways led nowhere. Among the the light and shadows, an incredible architectural dialogue across the ages is taking place.
Every century since the Hôtel-Dieu’s construction has left its trace, in some passageway, or in a dome, a strip of molding, a sculpture… These testimonies from the past confront each other, sometimes incongruously, often unexpectedly… With our pictures, we tried to communicate the singularity of the building, and to immerse the viewer in a history as much as in a palce.
We also tried to record this feeling that haunted us during our four days there. It was a feeling of wonder, trauma and emotion… a feeling linked to that imperceptible, immaterial type of presence: absence.”
Yves Marchand et Romain Meffre
Dans l’intimité de l’Hôtel Dieu
Yves Marchand, Romain Meffre
Until January 13, 2012