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Beyond the freshly tarmaced road lies only a wasteland. The Ghost Estates cover photography shows that the project envisaged for this plot of land has not come to fruition. It seems that this space should have been occupied by a detached home, completing the cul-de-sac. When the “housing bubble” burst in 2008, activity on building sites suddenly stopped. At this stage, the Irish landscape was already covered by over three thousand unoccupied housing estates. This makes the void shown in the cover picture unusual. Because as soon as you turn the first page of the book, the view is foreshortened. Buildings crowd the space.

Faced with these vestiges of wealth, Valérie Anex turns her camera towards the walls, the hedges, the fences and the advertising signs. She takes stock of the estates, paying close attention to the architecture and its direct links with land development policies. The composition of and repetition in the photographs, as well as the sequence of the images and their interaction with the text, make Ghost Estates a book that documents the process by which new houses become empty husks, left behind like debris. The book thus evokes the dynamic that leads from consumer fetishism to the collapse of an economic system.

The book’s closing image depicts the ghosts of futures imagined. Here, the avatars of the men and woman depicted on the advertising sign remind us of the origins of the ghost estates. Whilst in the past, a ghost town was one which had been abandoned, the ghost towns of today have never been inhabited. The photographs in Ghost Estates cannot make this “new spectre that is haunting the world” visible to the eye. However, they make reference to this compressed passage of time, allowing the reader to reflect on the habitable world.

the editors

Christian Tarabini, Laura von Niederhäusern



84 pages, 47 photographs in color

text in French and English

ISBN 978-2-8399-1169-6

Published in april 2013


This book had been realised with the support of the City of Geneva, the Republic and Canton of Geneva and the Loterie Romande.