There's something appealing about old, nearly forgotten spaces .
I think it resides in a gradual accumulation of human touch - so thick you can feel it. Time becomes visible through worn surfaces. Worn stair treads, for example, that fit your footstep just right. It's about scale and material and accumulation.
Certain alterations, though not always necessarily pretty or planned, leave a mark, a story behind. Some marks, like scars, may become beautiful against the rest of the body. Whether it looks good or bad doesn't matter so much as that it looks real.
Somehow, it is comforting to know the place is around, tougher and wiser for the wear well marked with a richness of human activity.
I began photographing the East Village area in 2006 as a way of searching for a personal understanding about what makes a place like the Des Moines East Village unique.
The work is born of a paradox. A relatively rapid rebirth and ensuing developmental pressure - the very thing saving the neighborhood - potentially threatens to destroy the very thing that makes it special.
This book offers a personal view. A photographic accumulation of details and architectural space of a particular location as reminders of character.
All Photographs by Matt Niebuhr - copyright 2006 - all rights reserved