01.05.2018

The allure of abandoned places

written by:
Eleonora Costi

01.05.2018

The allure of abandoned places

This project began 5 years ago as a simple adventure.

I read in a newspaper about an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Milan province and, partly for fun and partly out of curiosity, I went to take a look.

The adrenaline rush, the allure of the forbidden are a good match for my gloomy nature and so I decided to go in search of other similar places. But I never imagined that I would find so many places and, above all, that they would be so amazingly untouched.

Eleonora Costi Abandoned

Eleonora Costi Abandoned

The longest and most complicated part is definitely researching the places to visit.

It takes hours and days of research online and in the news items of the local papers of the various Italian towns and cities.

Once you have identified the district in which a building is located, you open up Google Earth and start looking for it from an aerial perspective.

Many villas and castles are from the same period, so they have similar structures that my eyes are now trained to pick out quite easily.

But finding the exact location is not the end of your problems.

Often these places have been walled up, padlocked or closed in some way and you have to get creative in order to find a way in.

After years of exploring, I can say that you (nearly) always find a way in: sometimes by climbing up a drainpipe to reach the windows, other times by going through the cellars.
I need to be lightweight and agile, so I only take with me what is strictly necessary.

Eleonora Costi Abandoned

In my rucksack, I cannot be without my Sony mirrorless camera, with the 16-35 Zeiss lens that allows me to take wide angle shots to get into a single photo the full beauty of these places and their magnificent living rooms.

And my tripod.

These places are extremely dark, but I prefer to play with the little light that gets in through the closed windows and with long exposure, instead of using artificial light.

This enables me to maintain in my shot the same atmosphere that I experience around me as I take it.

So I use a super stable and lightweight Manfrotto tripod to prevent any possible micro motion, with a 3-way head for taking centered and accurate shots.

Eleonora Costi Abandoned

The aim of this project is to give these places a second chance, a sort of second life.

I would like this project to go beyond just beautiful photographs and successfully convey to the observer the real feelings I get when I go into these places; and my wish is that the images help to increase public awareness, in the hope of possible urban renewal.

When we talk of abandoned places, we often think of ruins, fallen down buildings, worn-out structures; I, however, try to enhance their beauty, impoverished yet still full of charm.

My intention is to bring these places to life even only in the imagination of the observer, which is why I would like to create a book that tells their stories.

There are many problems leading to abandonment.

In some cases, it is a lack of funds for private individuals who find themselves inheriting old family villas and are without the money to carry out renovations or cover the costs of maintenance.

Unfortunately, in these cases, there is no help from the government for private owners, in the form of incentives or subsidies, which signals the end for such places.

In other cases, it is a problem of state-owned buildings being replaced by modern structures, leaving the old ones unused and in a state of deterioration, when all it would take is a bit of renovation for re-use.

My project is expanding: I have moved from Italy into Belgium and I have a map of thousands of places spread over France, Germany and elsewhere in the world.

I would like this project to go beyond just beautiful photographs and successfully convey to the observer the real feelings I get when I go into these places; and my wish is that the images help to increase public awareness, in the hope of possible urban renewal.

When we talk of abandoned places, we often think of ruins, fallen down buildings, worn-out structures; I, however, try to enhance their beauty, impoverished yet still full of charm.

My intention is to bring these places to life even only in the imagination of the observer, which is why I would like to create a book that tells their stories.

Eleonora Costi

Italiana

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