While “ruin porn” as it’s so charmingly known is nothing new, there’s more to Dana Stirling’s work than simply exhuming decrepit architecture with her lens. The series Dead Water shows the Kibuts Kalia Atraktzia water park near the Dead Sea in Israel, a site that holds personal significance for the artist. “The Atraktzia [was] an oasis of sweet water in the sea of death,” Dana explains. “Many Israelis share memories of Atraktzia as part of their tradition of family vacations and weekends. I have never had the chance of experiencing it for myself, yet I grew up knowing of a miraculous fantastic oasis in the middle of nowhere.”
The park shut down in 2000 due to political tensions in the area, and financial and legal problems. Dana decided to make the pilgrimage to the site to see the place she’d heard so much about for herself. “The stories of others that I based my memories of a place I never visited on were far from the place I could now see for myself,” she says. “Yet I feel nostalgic about the fall of the attraction from its glory…As I photographed the park it became smaller, paler and lifeless.”
The aim of Dana’s series isn’t to resurrect or recreate the park, but to document it, and in doing so help her understand something she only saw in dreams. The luscious blues and sad, faded peach of the flumes feel like a lament of sorts, and give the sense that the work isn’t just about comprehending the fall of something once so joyful, but about letting go of the past and the innocence of childhood.
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