The documentation of American consumer culture is nothing new. But over the last 50 years, as urban blight gave way to suburban sprawl (and as the public witnessed that same trend nearly reverse itself), the study of such subject matter has strong emotional pull. Many of us remain nostalgic for the stores we frequented as children, the places where we purchased playthings that provided us with hours of happiness and connect us to memories of our parents and childhood. We’re saddened when we hear that the shopping malls we roamed as teenagers have been shuttered or fallen on hard economic times. It’s a complicated affair, our collective relationship to consumer culture and the need to spend at least some fraction of our lives in retail stores. Photographer Brian Ulrich explores that relationship in his long-running photographic series.
According to PDN, “[T]he Cleveland Museum of Art will present the first major museum exhibition of work by contemporary photographer Brian Ulrich. “Copia—Retail, Thrift, and Dark Stores, 2001-11,” is a decade-long examination of the American consumer psyche. From the Latin word for “plenty,” the artist’s “Copia” series explores economic, cultural and political implications of commercialism and American consumer culture.”