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They move in places nobody goes: secret ruins, derelict factories, burnt-out hospitals and hidden caves in the city’s intricate sewer systems. They are urban explorers, modern Livingstones, adventurous and curious. Their goal is simple: to explore, discover and photograph buildings and constructions created by human beings in the forgotten spaces of civilisation.
Being an urban explorer can be dangerous and also illegal, depending on which places are explored. The most interesting locations are often cordoned off with locked fences and no entry signs. The decayed state of some buildings means that there is a risk of getting trapped, of col-lapse and of dangerous gasses. That is why experienced urbexers always prepare themselves thoroughly before an expedition and often go in groups so that help is near in case of accidents. In its most basic form, urban exploring does not require any equipment apart from a torch and a desire to explore. But for those urbexers who explore dangerous places such as underground missile silos and mineshafts, equipment includes oxygen tanks, climbing gear, helmets, wetsuits and a whole armoury of specialised tools.
Trips into forbidden areas can be demanding, both physically and mentally, but to the urbexers, it is worth it for the experience and the photographs. Their pictures explore the aesthetics of decay. They expose the breathtaking beauty of places where vanished lives whisper their stories through objects, scraps of paper and signs of use and wear – stories that urbexers love to find and pass on.
100 subcultures insight: For many years, Paris was home to an urbex cinema in a cave below street level. This unofficial subterranean cinema was accessible via a manhole cover and was apparently running for many years before the police found out.