In 2001, by accident at first, New York-based photographer Phillip Toledano, now 36, began taking pictures of the offices of bankrupt companies. He kept shooting for three years. "It was like economic archaeology," he says. "But the ruins were temporary, because when a new company moved in, the old one was erased almost immediately." He also collected actual memos sent to employees as the ax fell (read a sample below). The results are collected in Bankrupt (Twin Palms Publishers, 2004).
Sent: Tue, 12 Jan 2003 08:24:59 - 0800
Subject: Bad news...
Hey, everybody. We have some sad news to report. Effective today, we are ceasing operations and closing [our] doors for good.
The investor group decided not to grant us the funding we requested, and there is simply not enough money to continue operating. This is still sinking in for us — we came to work this morning and were told to pack up our belongings and turn in our keys.
A version of this article appeared in the May 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.