Abandonment Issues: Vol. 3 Nick Larsen
Abandonment Issues: Vol. 3 Nick Larsen by Anna C
A: Anna N: Nick
A: Tell me a little about you away from social networks.
N: My name is Nick Larsen and I was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota. I’m 21 years young soon to be 22. I recently moved back to Fargo after attending college in Minneapolis, MN at the Institute of Production and Recording. During my three years in Minneapolis, I studied audio production and engineering, music business, sound design for visual media, and photography.
Aside from taking photos with my iPhone, I also shoot with my Canon 7D, my Poloroid Big Spinner 3000, and occasionally my Yashica Mat 100, although I only post iPhone shots on IG. Recently, I started shooting for a local newspaper in Fargo and I am currently working on setting up a gallery showing of my work. After purchasing my 7D, I also started doing some video projects as well. I post my Canon shots on harvymoon.tumblr.com.
When I’m not taking photographs, I am a cook at the Fargo Country Club and have been there on and off for almost seven years now. I also rap in a band called “fargon.e.” which consists of me and my good friend and cohort Marc Colbert. We do all of our own production as well as recording and you can find our most recent project at soundcloud.com/fargone/sets/sixse7en. I am also an avid collector and thrift shopper.
A: Give us the history on when you began shooting abandons.
N: I started shooting abandoned buildings and houses in December of 2011. I was back in Fargo for Christmas Break and while on my way to a friends lake cabin, I noticed an abandoned house just off the main road. I returned a few days later with my camera and fell in love with it’s beauty. I found two more houses on the same road before returning to Minneapolis for school. When I got back to Minneapolis, I discovered that there is an entire community of people who explore abandoned buildings and I became very intrigued by them. I explored a few different abandoned warehouses not far from my apartment as well as an underground network of tunnels near the University of Minnesota. The rest is history.
A: What keeps you coming back to them?
N: What draws me to them is simple: they’re beautiful. I have always had a dark idea of what beautiful is to me and abandoned houses and buildings seemed to fit my definition quite well. I am also intrigued and extremely curious by the history of the house or building, as well as it’s reason for being abandoned. Sometimes I find houses that are still completely full of stuff that the people simply left behind and the mystery of why they did is what interests me and draws me to them.
A: Do you have an all time favorite shot?
N: I can’t even begin to try and choose a favorite photograph. If I were somehow able to pick one today, I can assure you that it would change as soon as tomorrow, if not sooner.
A: Have you ever found an interesting back story to any of the properties you have explored?
N: Some abandoned houses are not as easy to get into as most. The houses we find are not always decrepit or dilapidated, sometimes they are still almost livable. In some cases, the doors are locked and the houses are still filled with things from the previous tenants. If there isn’t a way into the house that doesn’t involve breaking something to gain entrance, then we won’t go in.
There was one house that we found in rural Minnesota that as soon as we pulled up, gave me and my buddy Devin a weird feeling. The house still had a satellite dish which we take as a small indication that the house is not abandoned. The house was however, overgrown by vegetation and after a look through the windows, we decided to try the door. The first door we tried was open but it only got us as far as the screened in porch. The door into the house was locked. We then tried the side door which was also locked so we decided to go around back. In the back of the house, we noticed a small window that was covered up by a board. The board was just leaning on the house so we moved it and crawled into the basement through the tiny window.
Once inside, we were overwhelmed by the plethora of shit that was still in this house. These people left everything. When we got into the kitchen, I noticed a sword that was hanging on the wall. I took it down to check it out and noticed some writing and a few symbols on the blade. I took some pictures of the sword on my phone and sent them to by buddy Will who happens to be a marine. He said that the sword looked to be from the military and that he would look into it.
We kept exploring the house and we stumbled upon one of the oddest finds to date in my opinion. We found a box of what appeared to be the hair of a little ginger girl, still tied in bows. After looking around the house some more, and seeing the previous tenants’ family portrait, we decided to get the hell out of there.
We crawled out of the basement window and headed back to Fargo. On our way back, my buddy Will texted me and said that the sword was from an old military cult that existed in the 60s. Apparently they were rumored to leave human skulls in their closets when they would move out. Now I don’t know how much of this is true because I didn’t do much research myself, but combined with the weird feeling and the box of hair, we were creeped out.
When we got back to Fargo, I couldn’t find the car keys that I had in my sweatshirt pouch earlier that day. I looked high and low and couldn’t find them. I concluded that I must have dropped them at the house. At this point, it was dark outside. I had to work in the morning so I needed my car. I talked my buddy into driving back out there to look for them and we were freaking out the whole way there. When we got there, I had a bat in my hand and my buddy Devin had this sketchy tire iron. We had a flashlight and so we prepared ourselves, then sprinted to the back window. I immediately saw my keys sitting on the ground right outside of the window. I snatched them up and we got the hell out of there as fast as we could.
A: What is your favorite kind of find? I always love finding old curtains or books.
N: My favorite kind of find is old furniture. I love the tones of furniture from the 70s and it contrasts well with the peeling walls and deteriorating floors. I am also a big fan of old audio equipment. I’ve found some very cool instruments and microphones in houses. But don’t get it twisted, we don’t steal.
A: Any advice for new explorers out there?
N: Be respectful. When we explore abandoned houses, we very rarely run into any people. Every once in a while, the owner of the property might live nearby and see us pull up. If they approach you, let them know what you’re doing and if they ask you to leave, you leave. Most of the time people are cool about it, but not always.
When I lived in Minneapolis, I would explore abandoned warehouses for the most part and I would sometimes run into squatters or bums. Whether you agree with their reasoning for living in the building or not, this is their home for the time being. You are in their home, so treat them with respect as if you are a guest in their home.
Oh, and don’t steal shit.