I was living in New York when the global financial crisis hit in 2008. The impact was almost immediate, and very tangible. A couple of months into the crash I took a walk with the dog around my neighbourhood and took photos of the shops that had recently closed down. It was one of the saddest series I'd ever made. Some of these places were New York icons. I would think to myself, "Imagine what those walls have witnessed. The conversations, the secrets, the stories."
Then recently I came across artist Candy Chang's Looking for Love Again interactive art project, and it reminded me of that walk.
The project focused on a building in Fairbanks, Alaska, which had stood vacant and silent for more than a decade. But once upon a time, this building had pulsated with life. It had been both an apartment complex and a hotel, and it housed a lot of memories.
Chang wrapped the building in a giant plea, "Looking for Love Again," and invited the people of Fairbanks to share their memories of the building on two big blackboards that were nailed around its walls.
"A lot of family memories stayed here for 30 day! Waiting to have my son who will be 17 years," someone wrote.
And another: "In memory of my grandparents Rudy and Mary Hill Dad Jay Hill Uncle Jack Hill who built this building with lots of love and hard work."
And this one: "Remember when the Pipeline Club was on top & women could be 'guests' but not 'members'?"
And simply: "A place 4 ppl to live their dreams and be happy."
Buildings play such an integral part in our lives. There's a reason we have a saying in English, "if these walls could talk..." Just imagine, for a moment, if they could. Oh the stories they could tell!