James Palmour: Reclaimed

There is a relationship to the built environment that we all share as human beings; something that goes beyond our mere habitation of constructed spaces, although in alignment with that experience.  Buildings reflect our aspirations as a society, as well as, project our disappointment when those expectations fall short.


When cities disavow their architectural commitments, the implications for citizens far exceeds the immediate result of having abandoned buildings dot the landscape.  As these structures are left behind for a period of years, they rust and decay, and eventually become dangerous for future habitation.  They may harbor illicit activities that present increased crime for neighboring communities.  Ultimately, many buildings are demolished (the rate of rehabilitation or reconstruction is exponentially less).  Psychologically, this process is a sort of violence committed against those persons who continue to live nearby.  Imagine the feeling of isolation for a person growing up in a house, on a city block, where all of the other homes have been demolished.  Similarly, imagine leaving your residence every day, to pass by the pile of rubble and twisted metal that was once the factory where generations of your family had careers- where you may have once had a job, and hoped for a career, as well.


It is this confluence of the past and present, as well as its psychological impact, that interests St. Louis based photographer, James Palmour.  For several years, Palmour has been conducting work inside of abandoned structures in cities throughout the Midwest, all along looking for the linkages that connect what the buildings have become to what they once were.  His work shares similarities with other architectural and preservationist photographers, like Richard Nickel (the Chicago-based artist who perished when a portion of the Chicago Stock Exchange collapsed on him).  However, the desire to document the fleeting moments of our collective history in picture form is long and varied, and likely a facet of the motivation behind photography’s initial invention.

Curated by Jason Gray in conjunction with the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum

By means of broken windows, hidden entrances, and moments of sheer luck, James Palmour explores and photographs the oft discarded remains of American industry and urban regress.

Based in St. Louis Missouri, James’ current collection focuses on fringes of the Midwestern “Rust Belt” ranging from Detroit MI, Gary IN, and St. Louis itself.

Influenced by the likes of historic preservationist and architectural photographer Richard Nickel, James seeks to reclaim the stories of locations discovered, relaying the emotion and consequence in digital form.

His latest works can be found at JamesPalmour.com