Fordlandia: The Lost City of Henry Ford

Dan Dubowitz


Built by Henry Ford in the 1930s in the heart of the Amazon, Fordlandia was once home to 15,000 people. The settlement featured a rubber factory, worker housing, and recreational facilities. This attempt by the auto magnate to construct a typical American town in the jungle was ill-fated from the start. The American and indigenous workers both experienced culture shock, failing to adjust to such unusual circumstances. Near chaos reigned until the site was abandoned in 1945. Looked at today, the project exposes the hubris of the world's richest man spending a billion dollars during the Great Depression.

Trained as an architect, Dan Dubowitz has spearheaded “cultural masterplanning”—or urban regeneration—projects for numerous cities in the UK. In his work as an artist, Dubowitz focuses his practice on cultural wastelands, with an interest in discovering what abandoned spaces can reveal about the psyche of contemporary society. This series of photographs provides viewers with an opportunity to reflect on the Fordist ethic of industrial mass-production, the epoch of American imperialism it ushered in, and the consequences left in its wake. The saga of Fordlandia finds parallels today in the environmental destruction wrought by multinationals.