When the Irish housing bubble burst in 2008, construction halted suddenly on building sites, leaving a trail of ghost estates. Ghost estates are developments in Ireland where more than half of the homes are unoccupied or incomplete. These abandoned properties are the subject of a new photography book that will be exhibited in the upcoming Photobookshow in England.
Valérie Anex photographed the rural northern and western parts of Ireland, where ghost estates dot the landscape. With many of the vestiges of normal suburbia–lawns and fences and parking signs–it almost looks as if any evidence of human presence has been digitally erased from the pictures.
Anex’s work differs from that of other photographers who capture abandoned spaces. Many of her subjects were not in fact abandoned. That’s because the houses were never inhabited in the first place. After construction halted, the buildings stood unused and unwanted.
For Anex, the ghost estates are more than just eyesores. They are haunting reminders of the hardship associated with the 2008 economic downfall. As of 2013, there are still approximately 1,300 ghost estates left in Ireland.