We think of feral dogs as dangerous, foreboding and to-be-avoid – but wild houses have a strange allure despite (or likely because) they are abandoned houses, deserted homes gone from domestic spaces slowly back to nature. As photographer James D Griffioen muses, the Latin root refers both to while beasts but also to something that belongs to the dead, gone back to the Earth.
Some of his shots capture this process at an incredibly late stage, such as the abandoned house above which is entirely camouflaged by the greenery that has grown to cover it – only discernible because the branches and vines conform to the shape of the structure.
Others photos catch the domestic devolution at intermediate stages, snapshots of partial overgrowth where there is still some strange balance of building and nature – one could almost imagine someone still occupying this structure and simply never leaving it.
As these images illustrate, nature really is the ultimate equalizer – whether smaller or large, wood shack or brick mansion, all of these structures in this Feral Houses photography set are likewise subject to the elements.
From the photographer: “For a few beautiful months during the summer, some of these houses become “feral” in every sense: they disappear behind ivy or the untended shrubs and trees planted generations ago to decorate their yards. The wood that framed the rooms gets crushed by trees rooted still in the earth. The burnt lime, sand, gravel, and plaster slowly erode into dust, encouraged by ivy spreading tentacles in its endless search for more sunlight. Like some of the dogs I’ve seen using these houses as shelter … these houses are reverting to a wild state, as from domestication, a word derived itself from domesticus (the Latin for belonging to the domus, or house). Now these houses are feralis. They belong only to the dead.”