Friday, October 12, 2012

The Forgotten Beauty of Manhole Covers


Have you ever stopped and thought that the ground under you feet is hiding a world of art? If not, look under your feet and explore the forgotten beauty of manhole covers. It is for this reason I decided to photograph them. These objects are very much over-watched in everyday life aesthetics. During my project I have been exploring manhole covers in a variety of locations such as in the cities and their surrounds. I have been taking photos of manhole covers on streets, footpaths and basements. I believe that photographing manhole covers is closely associated to Murray’s concept of amateurism photography. Manhole covers are objects that humans tread on daily without noticing them. Today, photography is not only about capturing posed family portraits it’s also about capturing instant moments of ignored objects at any time of the day. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Photographing manhole covers enriches you to see the beauty of the unnoticed. Manhole covers are all unique, and each has its own design and symbol. They exist to prevent people and things from falling into the holes they cover. Originally, manhole covers were installed for visual inspections of sewers. Now, we can see the beauty of manhole covers; they create an unseen pattern in our every day life while they contemporaneously save our lives from falling into holes.

I have included a poem from Karl Shapiro below as it portrays the beauty of manhole covers. The poem emphasizes that the beauty can be found anywhere, even in the most unusual places.

Manhole Covers

The beauty of manhole covers--what of that?
Like medals struck by a great savage khan,
Like Mayan calendar stones, unliftable, indecipherable,
Not like the old electrum, chased and scored,
Mottoed and sculptured to a turn,
But notched and whelked and pocked and smashed
With the great company names
(Gentle Bethlehem, smiling United States).
This rustproof artifact of my street,
Long after roads are melted away will lie
Sidewise in the grave of the iron-old world,
Bitten at the edges,
Strong with its cryptic American,
Its dated beauty.

- Karl Shapiro


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