BY BEN MARCIN
Ben Marcin was born in Augsburg, Germany and raised in the United States. He lives and works in Baltimore, MD. Most of his photographic essays explore the idea of home and the passing of time. “Last House Standing” and, “The Camps”, have received wide press both nationally and abroad (The Paris Review, iGnant, La Repubblica, Slate, Wired Magazine). Ben’s photographs have been shown at a number of national galleries and venues including the Delaware Art Museum; The Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA; The Center For Fine Art Photography in Ft. Collins, CO; The Corden | Potts Gallery in San Francisco and the Houston Center for Photography. “Last House Standing (And Other Stories)” was featured in a 2014 solo exhibit at the C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore, where he is currently represented. His work is also in several important collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The prairie houses in "Out West" were originally built after the Civil War continuing into the early part of the 20th century. During this time, the development of the railroad across this vast expanse, along with a surprisingly decent climate, created something of a farming boom. This all ended with the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, a calamity caused by an unfortunate combination of record droughts and improper farming techniques. The houses I photographed are the remnants of this period in history.
Unlike the row houses of Last House Standing, structures that were originally packed into very dense urban neighborhoods, the houses of Out West were built by people determined to seek a destiny in almost complete isolation. Despite their very different origins, both types of houses would eventually meet the same fate. While the prairie houses and their surrounding environment are remarkably austere, there is also present an almost otherworldly serenity that must have given hope to a landowner now long gone.