Hosting the Olympic Games has become a way for a city to show itself off on an international stage and generate tourism dollars. Cities can spend millions, even billions for the privilege. But after the events are over, the medals have been handed out, and the torch is extinguished, what’s next? What happens to a city after the Olympics are gone? The Olympic City is a photography project that looks at the legacy of the Games in a selection of former host cities around the world.
In The Olympic City, we’re documenting the successes and failures, the forgotten remnants and ghosts of the Olympic spectacle. Some former Olympic sites are retrofitted and used in ways that belie their grand beginnings; turned into prisons, housing, malls, gyms, churches. Others sit unused for decades and become tragic time capsules, examples of misguided planning and broken promises of the benefits that the Games would bring.
We’re interested in these disparate ideas – decay and rebirth – and how each site seems to have gone one way or the other, either by choice or circumstance. We’re equally interested in the lives of the people whose neighbourhoods have been transformed by Olympic development.
So far we’ve visited Athens, Lake Placid, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Montreal, and Rome; we’ll travel to another eight former host cities later this year. The resulting photographs will be published as a large-format hardcover book in March 2013 in a limited edition of 1,000 copies, designed by Paul Sahre. This will coincide with an exhibition of the photographs in New York and other cities. We are also producing a digital version of the book, and 100 signed copies of a deluxe edition that will include two original prints from the project.
Jon Pack is a New York-based photographer who has exhibited work in galleries in the US and in Europe since 2006. Gary Hustwit is a filmmaker based in New York and London. In addition to directing his ‘design trilogy’ of Helvetica (2007), Objectified (2009) and Urbanized (2011), Hustwit has worked as a producer for various music films for bands such as Wilco, Death Cab For Cutie and Animal Collective.