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The Beauty of Decaying Theatres

Photographer Julia Solis brings us 100+ images of the hub of mid 20th-century popular culture.

We all know that video piracy is a crime and that we should pay for the music we are listening, too, but just how far we have come from 20th-century entertainment is not always present in our minds. Enter photographer Julia Solis and her new book Stages of Decay — a feat that took her across Europe and the US over a period of years to document over 100 disused and dilapidated theatres that once housed The Who, witnessed the cinematic events of their eras and were symbols of popular culture, cultural hubs and signifiers of Western affluence.

The images tiptoe along that enticing line between nostalgia, beauty, decay — actually it is all very Tintern Abbey — and all those butterfly feelings that come up when we dream of days long gone. Solis sees the images as more experiential, as she told Flavorwire: "You want a one-on-one encounter with it, to open secret closets and fondle plaster and play with rusted machinery without your parents' interference. In a society that's increasingly controlled, monitored and publicised, a wild space like that can't help but have an incredible allure."

Be sure to note the cars parked underneath the ornate ceiling of the old Michigan Theatre, and for the trivia buffs, it is now the parking lot for the new cinema. Circle of life?

Published on April 17, 2013 by Ruby Lennon

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