Melanie De Groot van Embden: Urban Escape

From New York to San Francisco, live a journey through abandoned America.

What does a cooling tower look like from above? How do you climb New York's bridges? How does a city decay? Where are America's nuclear missile silos hidden? These are the questions that David de Rueda and Melanie de Groot van Embden decided to answer on a three-month road trip through the United States. Far from museum crowds, they went to visit abandoned power plants, hotels, prisons, churches and construction sites and asked American adventurers about their most well-kept urban jungle secrets.


Urban Escape is a documentary born from a photographer’s and a journalist’s desire to share their passion for exploration and adventure. The film is made up of encounters with urban explorers from the top of the Queensborough Bridge to the military cemetery of San Francisco Bay. In their van, David and Melanie reach New York, Detroit, Nashville, Denver and San Francisco, inviting us to take a fresh look at our modern environment and discover a thrilling way of life.

With Steve Duncan, Detroit Unseen, Ed Serecky, Kurt, Micah Whatley, Andrew Bisset, Ashley Simoneaux, Stephen Freskos and Scott Haefner.

Music by Edgar Noon.

From the Artist: 



"I am more of a video journalist. I research, film, and edit news stories for the french television in New York. I did one movie and several music videos. In the future, my ambition is to make more personal documentaries about the world around me. I am working on it."  

Female pioneer:

Nellie Bly.


"Nellie Bly, was meant to be maid but she didn't listen to anybody. When she started as a journalist in the 18th century, she probably had to face a lot of criticism, from her family, from other journalists, basically from everyone. She must have been not only very talented but very visionary. I like the idea that she made a breakthrough in a very sexist world such as journalism and helps me believe that there is no rules. One can do whatever they want to do. She has taken a lot of risks but they have been rewarded. I kind of like her style too, wearing a 19th century dress with a bottle of whisky hidden under it...

At a time when men were ruling the journalism world, Nellie Bly only listened to her own determination. She was hired by Pulitzer's NY World and sent undercover to a mad house, which was horrible at the time. Out of this experience came out the book, 10 days in a madhouse, she was a pioneer in investigative journalism. She is the most bold, inspiring, romantic journalist that I can think of."

We look forward to share an excerpt of Melanie's documentary Urban Escape at the GUM Director's Showcase at Whitney Houston Biennial 2017 on March 28th at Roxy Cinemas Tribeca. The artist will be attending the Q&A.