Xavier Nuez | Alleys & Ruins
The Alleys & Ruins series is a “masterpiece”
The New York Times

Alleys & Ruins

Long after dark, I venture into bleak urban settings, seeking out their elusive splendor. With the city humming in the background, I find inspiration, peace and refuge where none should exist.

My determined and intense outings often lead into dangerous neighborhoods, at times resulting in trouble. I’ve run from street gangs, been accosted by crazed drug addicts, and have had guns pointed at me. If the police see me lurking in a dark alley, I am often questioned and searched.

With a family history of homelessness, I developed a need to create monuments out of these shunned spaces. Although positive, life-affirming perceptions are not usually associated with acute urban blight, I feel compelled to dignify what has been rejected.


The images in the series are shot in a mostly traditional manner. The photographs are taken at night, using a 50 year old Hasselblad film camera. During the 10 to 30 minute exposures, I walk around with various (colored) lights and shine them on different parts of the scene, adding color and texture to the typically drab locations.
Alleys & Ruins no. 152, Carnival (2018, Dallas, TX, 11:30pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 151, Razor (2016, Philadelphia, PA, 10:30pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 150, Primo (2016, Philadelphia, PA, 10:30pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 149, Dumpster Dive (2016, Chicago, IL, 10:30pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 148, Dive Bar (2015, Chicago, IL, 11pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 147, Dequindre Couch (2015, Detroit, MI, 11pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 146, Electric (2014, Portland, OR, 11pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 145, Key Bridge (2014, Washington, DC, 11pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 144, Light Circus (2013, Houston, TX, 11pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 143, Reckoning (2013, Detroit, MI, 12:00am)Alleys & Ruins no. 142, Luv (2013, Chicago, IL, 10:00pm)The Lighting ProcessAlleys & Ruins no. 140, Semi (2011, Dallas, TX, 11:45pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 141, Cotton Belt (2011, St Louis, MO, 10:30pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 139, Tracks (2011, Chicago, IL, 10:00pm)The Lighting ProcessAlleys & Ruins no. 138, New York, New York (2011, Brooklyn, NY, 9pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 137, Portal (2011, Queens, NY, 11pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 136, Motor City (2010, Detroit, MI, 9:30pm)Alleys & Ruins no. 135, Hard Rock (2010, Cleveland, OH, 10pm)