January 26, 2016
New Jersey photographer John Bendel has been documenting abandoned spaces for years, but just this week he released a new project dedicated to one of Philadelphia's most interesting abandoned structures. "4Years/40Walls" follows the walls of Spring Garden School No. 1 in North Philly from 2011 to 2015 as they've become layered with more and more graffiti.
The school itself was built in 1927 and was closed by the Board of Education (and added to the National Register of Historic Places) in 1986. In the decades since, it's been painted over and over again by taggers and urban explorers.
Bendel's online interactive project includes sets of photos (of, you guessed it, 40 walls) in 2011 and 2015, with some having an extra photo from 2013. Each becomes its own time capsule and a micro-history of recent graffiti techniques.
He writes of the project, "In its entirety, Spring Garden School's interior was a compelling kinetic artwork, a slow-motion installation, a marvel to experience. The pictures here only hint at that adventure in time and abstraction."
Click here to see the entirety of "4Years/40Walls."