Images of demolition and desuetude

Silent, aromatic halls of what was once a grimy, noisy, bustling engine of economy, now a ghost town in the middle of a city: That's what Durham photographer DL Anderson captures in When the Dust Settles, on display at Through This Lens.

After Liggett and Myers closed their behemoth factory downtown but before Blue Devil Partners began renovating it into West Village, Anderson worked to record the last gasps of the complex.

In his photographs, we see scenes of desuetude, desolation and demolition in muted colors: pristine but utterly deserted factory floors; an ashtray, left untouched in a board room; and gloves abandoned beside the machine they used to work.

Anderson had wonderful material to work with, and he lets it speak uninhibited. He uses a variety of shots, from close-ups to full rooms, but retains the clean, cool lines of his subject matter. Light is his most powerful tool: dim, blood-red or gaping in from a hole punched by the wrecking ball.

In one image, Anderson captures the rusting, riveted back of the sign atop the plant. It is a fitting metaphor for any factory-the product is presented gleaming to consumers, but the rough, plain means of production are meant to be hidden.

Or perhaps not. Also on display is a copy of a promotional pamphlet picturing Liggett's factory in its heyday.

The contrast between Anderson's photos and the smiling faces of the hundreds of workers on the shop floor in 1941 tell stories about how much the city has changed-the challenges and chances of changing economy, and perhaps what we lose in gentrification.

When the Dust Settles is on display at Through This Lens, located at 303 E. Chapel Hill St. in Durham through Nov. 18. See for more information.


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