writings blog

The Last Order

In 2002 when the Scranton Lace Company permanently dismissed operations with the company’s vice president telling its employees during mid-shift that the next day they will not be having their lunch in the factory, I was four years into my new personal and professional endeavor in the United States and specifically in the Scranton area. As things change and as they remain, the fascination of the visual and factual histories which exist behind closed doors and the barriers of remarkable structures is still keen to me. Their elegance, design and unapologetic demeanor that gracefully exists,  perhaps looks down with anger onto the cacophony of their architectural successors. They stoically stand there, awaiting for their certain demise, to be evolved into a metaphor, a reference or a possible prophecy for decisions that were made without any reckoning. Some view the laid structures as a nuance needing to be demolished for the greater good of the community, whatever that means. Others view them as an honorable wage not far away from home.


What a better time to continue recording these contemporary ruins and although I am not into this kind of photographing business, per se, I have great respect for colleagues who arduously do, but in a way which brings knowledge to all. One being Yoav Friedlander, whom I share many similar thoughts on the subject of visual history and community, but his photographic approach differs from mine, as it should.. As it should be that one shall not enter this land, or any land, with an agenda and preconceived ideas about the people, their values and ideologies; Values that for better or worse, are deeply ingrained within the walls of these industrial phantasms and in the nearby living rooms, lingering in limbo, wanting to be represented, to be heard or possibly to simply exist.

Scranton Lace Company, Scranton, Penn., March 30th, 2019. ©Niko J. Kallianiotis

Scranton Lace Company, Scranton, Penn., March 30th, 2019. ©Niko J. Kallianiotis

But what is the purpose of the representational motif of the passerby photographer, who as some assert comes on the fly, records and leaves? In its entirety what purpose does it serve, and does anyone really care anymore? For this reason, I have passed the profusion of this visually riveting subject matter a plentitude of times, and I have seldom photographed because I am constantly  asking what is the purpose, and often I have thought of laying down the camera, permanently. What do I contribute to the conversation other than adding another brick, that sooner or later will collapse just like the Dickover bricks which were locally manufactured. I am particularly interested in the past and future, the historical trajectory, of these structures and therefore I rummage to decipher clues that point to a tunnel of hope. There is definitely a nihilistic and pessimistic-thinking process consuming my mode of operation and I am an ardent supporter of metaphors, so hopefully you will not take things literally, as you shouldn’t.. It is almost like looking yourself in the mirror, static, impotent. I am hopeful the answer to all this must exist within the confined spaces of the photograph. In the relationship between photographer and subject and hopefully between the alchemy and chemical connection, which moves beyond the surface, breaks the veil and transpierces the veins of the viewfinder becoming a pulse, a vibration that sends signals.

Scranton Lace Company, Scranton, Penn., March 30th, 2019. ©Niko J. Kallianiotis

Scranton Lace Company, Scranton, Penn., March 30th, 2019. ©Niko J. Kallianiotis

The same can be said and realized about the state of structures similar to the Scranton Lace Company throughout the region, but also the world. In reality, I am using this solemn giant of a structure as a reference that is both literal and a metaphor because if you deconstruct the fundamental schemes, whether those are pillars, notes, memories  or digital pixels, you do have a product, a result that speaks to who you are and what you value, or don’t.

I have always wondered about life in those days, to have hope in both joyful and angst moments that if something goes professionally astray, I would be able to make a descent living with a high school diploma while staying close to home with my friends, my family and my land. Now I wander by these contemporary ruins that eloquently will be transformed into a new entity but luckily some of their skin will be salvaged and will serve as a memory. Because a theater, a bowling alley, gymnasium, infirmary are indeed a memory that will become a fantasy for the new employees who will spend their time in front of a computer screen with a digital window glued to Facebook, waiting for their end-shift to be over as if there is time to visit the bowling alley. But through the walls of these same structures where small cosmos once existed, those who once bowled feet away from the new modern reality sarcastically laugh like immortals and gaze towards the clock tower counting the minutes to their end-shift, a shit that never came because some capitalist villain did not let them complete one last order.  

Scranton Lace Company, Scranton, Penn., March 30th, 2019. ©Niko J. Kallianiotis

Scranton Lace Company, Scranton, Penn., March 30th, 2019. ©Niko J. Kallianiotis







by Niko J Kallianiotis