'Unfortunately this was, I feel, one of my most ill-fated and least productive sessions.'
Of all the artists I have featured, I am not sure there is another, who has taken me into so many places, and so many worlds, that no longer exist. Robert Colgan has taken me not just to old abandoned buildings and warehouses, Robert has taken me, and FH, through farms, bank vaults and even a prison, deserted long ago. Today Robert shares another fascinating structure, Veterans Memorial Hall, the building, demolished not long after this shoot. Robert is joined once again on this journey by Vaughn
'It was my wonderful model Vaughn who first answered the call to action and visually explore and record a space soon to disappear. Unfortunately this also required dodging areas of active demolition, but Vaughn always is game for whatever environment you place him. Never shies away from a challenge. Of course, this is what yields an exciting image.' Robert's images of Vaughn have always been some of my favorites and many of you remember the first time I profiled their work together back in 2012. (A Major Distraction) In that feature, Robert captured Vaughn in and around a recently foreclosed property in Robert's neighbourhood. In preparation for that shoot, Robert had spent a few days preparing for the shoot, readying the property and location. With Veterans Memorial Hall, there was little time to prep, in fact the entire shoot was a little rushed, trying to get shots in before they were discovered and found out.
This was Robert's first shoot in the location and the limited time left Robert frustrated with all the shots he was unable to get. Vaughn has been out late the night before, and with his college demands was a bit tired. Despite this, the 22 year old model was his typical creative self, receptive to ideas and willing as always, to try tough positions, precariously posing in risky corners and on narrow staircases as they hurried to get their shots. Vaughn enjoys being in front of the camera and being creative but it was a rushed effort to try as many variations before we had to leave.' Usually, when you don't get the shots you want, you can reschedule and give it another go. In this case, Ill-fated was not the missed shots, but with the building's impending demolition, they were shots that would never come to be.
Robert's account of the shoot is one of the reasons I love delving into story. When I first saw Robert's blog post about the shoot I was drawn in initially by seeing more of his work with Vaughn, but I was kept in by windows, staircases, metal and brick that surrounded him. Although Robert may lament what he missed, I can only be grateful for what I am lucky enough to get to see.
Robert shares that here was a lot of controversy regarding the building. 'It had been used as a meeting hall for various veterans organizations and made a profit by renting out the huge theatre and accompanying exhibition halls for many different events. Arnold Schwarzenegger began his world renowned health and fitness competition called the Arnold Classic here in Columbus at this very building.'
'It was sad to see the plinth outside the building that used to display a larger than life bronze statue of Arnold all clipped and battered with the ruins behind. I was lucky enough to have a friend grant me access to this building. It was very different in that it was so immediately vacated and it didn't have the same sense of decay as many other locations I've utilized in the past. There was also a weird sense that others had found their way into the place and were probably lurking in the shadows. Sometimes we heard sounds that defied explanation, so we wondered if we were being watched.'