Lost utopias: how the world imagined its future

Lost utopias: how the world imagined its future


A photographer documents the dramatic structures and relics of World's Fair sites

18th November 2016
Photographs by Jade Doskow

For the past 10 years American photographer Jade Doskow has been documenting the architectural remains of former World's Fair sites – among the planet's most curious monuments.

Some of these designs and sites are world renowned and remain much admired; think of Buckminster Fuller's New York dome and Seattle's Space Needle. While others are now plainly ludicrous, such as the McBarge: the McDonalds restaurant on a barge that graced Vancouver's '86 Expo. This grand testament to future technology and architecture of mid-80s Canada now sits anchored, empty, sinking in the city's False Creek.

Though World Fairs continue today as exercises in national branding (the next one takes place next year in Astana, Kazakhstan), their relevance has faded in a fully industrialised, globalised modern world. The celebrated – or once-celebrated – global attractions Doskow captures are testament to how a place chose to present itself to the world, how it considered its future in terms of industry, scientific innovation and commercial and cultural exchange, at very particular moments of history. All have outlived their purpose, for good or bad, and today most of them have fallen into neglect or have been reused for less noble ends.

It's that oddness and faded hubris that Doskow captures in her photographs, which are collected in a new book, Lost Utopias, alongside essays by Richard Pare and Jennifer Minner, which reflect on the history of the World Fair.

New York 1964 World's Fair, 'Peace Through Understanding', New York State Pavilion, Winter View (2014)
New York 1964 World's Fair, 'Peace Through Understanding', Unisphere (2009)
Vancouver 1986 World's Fair, 'World Exposition on Transportation and Communication', McBarge (2014)
St. Louis 1904 World's Fair, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Flight Cage (2013)
New York 1964 World's Fair, 'Peace Through Understanding', Airplane (2011)
Montreal 1967 World's Fair, 'Man and His World', Habitat '67 (2012)
Seattle 1962 World's Fair, 'The Century 21 Exposition', Space Needle (2014)
Paris 1889 / 1937 World's Fairs, 'Exposition Universelle / La Vie Moderne', Eiffel Tower, Trocadero, and Palais de Chaillot (2007)
Lost Utopias: Photographs by Jade Doskow is out now

Images courtesy of Jade Doskow and Black Dog Publishing

Top image: Brussels 1958 World's Fair, "A World View: A New Humanism," Atomium (2007)


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