New York City Firefighter since 1978, Gordon now works on his art upstate New York.
I've been drawn to abandoned buildings all my life. When I became a New York City firefighter in 1978, entering and navigating vacant structures became both a full-time job and a passion. Around the same time, I moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, surrounded by blocks of vacant tenements. Despite the dangers, I spent much time exploring these urban ruins.
Over time, I fell in love with turn-of-the-century industries: mills, warehouses, foundries, loft buildings and factories. This also included former institutions such as asylums, prisons, schools and hospitals. And also foreclosed homes.
As I started photographing these emptied spaces throughout the U.S., I found myself feeling comfortable in the midst of neglect and decay. The abandonment, loneliness, and isolation inside the structures grounded me. I discovered an escape from the boredom of inhabited spaces, growing lost within the wealth of bygone architecture and design. Here, I feel like I’m participating in some grand installation of living art. The decay is dynamic – the interiors always evolving. New levels of rust and mold, brick disintegrating and nature slowly prevailing. Where some people see eyesores, I see the labor of architects, craftsmen, and assemblymen using complex machinery built as durably as the products it made. To me, each building tells a story from our past, and collectively, the story of our present – an era of greed when everything--from architecture to wares to art--is disposable, replaceable.
Today I create miniatures inspired from my photography.