Aurelian Villette’s haunting portrayal of decaying interiors, some of them places of worship, some workplaces, others political auditoria or people’s homes, seems to strike a deeply embedded cord. Ever since the Renaissance when we started to dig up the relicts of classical civilisation and venerate them, greedily collect them and annex them to our worldview in the presentation of ourselves as equal in civilisation to the Romans and Greeks, ruins have been admired in the West. Classical ruins were not only a learning tool – teaching us anew the lost techniques of antiquity – but in a Romantic sense they have also been deeply evocative and salutary reminders that wealth, power and learning do not guarantee survival. A reminder indeed that all will ultimately end in dust or strangled by vines.
What happens to buildings when they are no longer needed or have outlasted their original purpose? They are either lovingly restored so they can be used for something else - or they fall into ruin, where they remain as silent witnesses of a bygone era. French photographer Aurelien Villette has made it his mission to trace these dilapidated buildings - some completely forgotten by history - and capture their incomparable beauty in wondrous color photographs. Whether his subject is a Christian chapel, an erstwhile theater, or the events center in a former Communist country, Villette brings the spirit and pathos the place once embodied back to life. At the same time, the ruins in his evocative photographs are stylized to create cultural heirlooms of the various periods and countries where they are located. The technically perfect photography allows the viewer to infer various architectural influences of earlier times, making this volume a very special historical and cultural documentation. Allow yourself to be transported by the breathtaking beauty of these images and dive into a former era where time stands still.