The photographer David de Rueda claims before all being an urban explorer. From his wanderings in places we no longer go to nor look at, abandoned places in the heart of our cities, he brings back his images, photographs and videos. He is part of the large “urbexers” family, that is to say: those who practice Urbex – from the contraction of Urban Exploration.
The latter are more and more numerous and organized. Lived solo or in small groups, the experiences are shared with thousands of videos on the YouTube platform and on dedicated websites. The one created by David de Rueda has become a reference. The images taken on location during expeditions are thrust like trophies that bring the proof of their experience. Many forums enable experienced urbexers to accompany beginners with they advice on the material necessary and mostly on accessible spots, without much difficulty or danger. Because the main concern is indeed that one: the permanent search for THE spot, that no other explorer has already entered, the one that has remained unexplored for as long as possible. The magnitude of the Urbex phenomenon is such that one needs to move away from downtowns in hope to be the first somewhere. Always on the search, David de Rueda conceived the Urban Space project, financed thanks to crowdfunding a 3 months trip through American ruins, of which he has made a film.
If entering private property is illegal, a vagueness of the law regarding abandoned buildings ensures a relative tranquility to these visitors that would rather remain discrete, obeying strict rules of respect for the premises. Listed by the creator of the first Fanzine dedicated to Urbex, Jeff Chapman, known under the alias Ninjalicious, these rules revolve around one principle: “Take only photographs. Leave only footprints. Kill only time. Keep only memories.”
One can regret a certain uniformity of the images produced, the ruins all seem to be treated in the same way no matter what their nature is, be it a 19th century manor or a refinery of the 1980s — the contemporary industrial or real estate wastelands being the most popular. The films and videos are often filed with expected effects, in post-apocalyptic aesthetics supported by very heavy music that burden and asphyxiate their contents. Some will also grind their teethes regarding the incorrectness or errors that sometimes punctuate the comments, made live or with a voice-over, about the history of the buildings. No matter the aesthetics or the truth, the experience in itself is showcased, with this life-size game in the background, the very romantic desire to show the ruin as a corollary to our times.
Translation by Maya Dalinsky
Cover: © David de Rueda