Germany, or, as its known, the land of poets and thinkers, it’s without a doubt one of the greatest countries in the world right now. There is something about the stunning scenery of vast forests, beautiful mountaintops, and gorgeous rivers that simply compels visitors to come here and grasp as much as possible.
It is also the beer-drinking capital of the world, the birthplace of many important historical figures, composers and philosophers and the home of over 25,000 impressive looking castle.
While many visitors come to see the popular eye-catching venues and sights, some people look for something else entirely. They find the beauty and exuberance in obscure places, mysterious, derelict sites and old, neglected buildings. All the spots that are hidden, unnoticeable for the naked eye.
One of those people is our dear friend, Kenneth Provost; world traveler, photographer and urban explorer. He and his camera have visited plenty of secluded locations around Europe and found in them something quite appealing and one of a kind. Mr. Provost’s main point of interest usually are ruined, run-down buildings and deserted sites, neglected and forsaken by many. Seen through his camera lenses, these places reveal their inner charm and his keen eye for detail and composition show their fragile state, but at the same time giving them a sense of purpose and subtle elegance.
All pictures by © Kenneth Provost
This time he found himself in Germany and as anxious and curious is his urge to explore, he is never in a hurry. Provost meticulously looks for spots that at the same time will satisfy him artistically but will also puzzle him personally.
And when he finds precisely what’s he looking for, Kenneth simply puts the camera at the right angle, and the captured moment is there forever, always the same and everlasting.
An old abandoned, derelict building peaked Provost’s interest, so he snuck in there to investigate. This is very important to his process, because as he says: ” I’m not only interested in the photos I take. I also want to know more about the place itself, its backstory. That way, the photo has more meaning and debt to it”.
He foud out, subsequently, that a family actually lived in the mansion, and both parents were doctors. The husband died in 1987, and in 2002, the widow, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, was transferred to a retirement home where she died. Their children weren’t interested in keeping the house, so they simply left it there to rot. And the mansion is in total despair.
Next, Provost run into a couple of faded ballrooms, from the time when Germany was divided.
“Almost every city of the former DDR had a room like this, designed to house concerts and parties. Unfortunately, as you can see, they are decayed and broken and nobody cares to do anything about it”
A stunning photo of a pathology room in an abandoned hospital really shows how Provost can turn something that can be creepy for someone into something utterly beautiful.
“The saturation of the colors give the photo a somewhat, surreal quality. It’s simply a matter of perspective for me. In this instance, this room was dying to be photographed”, and once you have it, the moment is completely separated from reality and only exist in the frame”.
His visit to the abandoned Military complex proved to be a difficult task, even for Provost, because ” The site was the size of a small town. And there were many things to see. I was walking among the rusty scenery, and the place felt like the ghosts of the past are still there. I gotta admit, it was spooky a little bit”.
He entered the main building of the flight school, and he took a great symmetrical photo of the entrance stairway that highlights, even more, the loneliness and the despair of the place. Or as he put it: ” I felt sad when I walked in there, so from this angle, the light from the outside gave the place some sense of hope. Light at the end of the tunnel”.
Afterward was a visit to a derelict little hotel in East Germany, and this time Kenneth was fascinated by the sight: ” I found this room, all covered in mold and fungus, the beds were on the floor that was covered with grass. In that moment I felt like I was in some Brothers Grimm fairytale”.
His adventure through a former coal factory turned up to be really productive. Provost was mesmerized by the almost untouched hearse he saw and the photo he took from inside the factory that he said: “It reminded me of Darth Vader’s mask”. And it really does, and saturated in sepia tones the picture looks great.
Definitely one of his most staggering pics is the “Knitting Granny”, as he calls it. Provost succeeds in telling a story within a frame just by using what was already there. “I went into this abandoned house and when I saw the graffiti and the chair, I knew I had the shot. And the artist who put that painting on the wall just made my job easier”.
Mr. Provost inspected several more abandoned buildings. An entrance staircase from a vintage mansion caught his attention and he took the photo from an interesting angle so we can see the bottom and the upper floor at the same time. And in another building was the picture of some dressing room, possibly from an abandoned theater.
Inside the abandoned Saint Rita church that he Kenneth entered, he felt a little bit disappointed why a building with such architecture is left simply to rot away. ” It’s such a pity no one even attempts to rescue this forgotten church. It really made an impression on me”.
One of his favorite photos he took while in Germany was inside an old building, probably from the early 20th century, that clearly was functioning as a care home for the elderly. ” I call it Home of the wheelchairs. There was something about that whole room that was dreamy in a way. Like you are standing inside someone’s memory. And everything was made of wood, which made the photo quite introspective”.
Mr. Provost final endeavor was an abandoned castle, which he found out was a prison for the mentally unstable. ” The prison existed from 1863 to 1991, and it has been abandoned and neglected ever since. And I really don’t know the reason why isn’t still at least renovated”. And the photo of the hallway he took there definitely speaks for itself.