We Americans tend to conceptualize "old" in very recent terms—which explains our collective fascination with ruin porn. If the decay of European cities receives less attention, it's just because it's much more ubiquitous. French photographer and self-described "urban explorer" Thomas Jorion has made a career out of seeking out and photographing these lesser known spaces—from an ice-crusted Bulgarian monument to a rotting gas storage silo, seen above.
37-year-old Jorion was trained as a lawyer, but quit his job to pursue photography full-time several years ago. Working with a large-format camera, he shoots abandoned places almost exclusively—searching out industrial landscapes, in particular. In a foreword to his book, Timeless Islands (PDF), he explains:
Gigantic textile factories in Northern Italy have completely disappeared, even sumptuous villas of industrialists were forsaken and left to decay. Twenty years after the reunification this development can also be seen in Germany, where factories became completely unsuitable for the global economy and whole regions became deserted due to migration.
The resulting photos document chemical companies in Germany, paper factories in Italy, and the decrepit nouveau riche mansions of the families who once ran them. Jorion has also ventured into political buildings. For example, the Buzludzha Monument, built atop a rugged mountain peak to commemorate the 1891 coup of Socialist hero Dimitar Blagoev:
Today, Buzludzha is half-filled with snow and ice. It's hard to imagine the same thing happening to an American monument—but then, we're very young. Check out a few more of Jorion's snaps below. [Thomas Jorion]
Cisterna, Cement works, industrial park, Lombardy, Italy, 2009.
Porpora, Villa Livorno, living room, Piedmont, Italy, 2010.
Webstuhl, Carpet factory, production line, Saxony, Germany, 2008.
Coruscant, Wine warehouse, main hall, Haute-Normandie, France, 2010.
Basketball, Military base, gymnasium, Brandenburg, Germany, 2010.
Paper plant, Italy, 2010.
Antechamber, from 2011.
Déjà vu, from 2011.