Retail and Dark Stores : Brian Ulrich

June 27 - August 22, 2009


Plenty, a plentiful supply: now chiefly in L. phrase copia verborum abundance of words, a copious vocabulary. Cf. COPY n. 1c.

a. Plenty, abundance, a copious quantity.

b. Fullness, plentitude. Obs.

c. esp. of language: Copiousness, abundance, fullness, richness. copy of words : = L. copia verborum. Obs.

II. A transcript of reproduction of an original.

In 2001 citizens were encouraged to take to the malls to boost the U.S. economy through shopping, thereby equating consumerism with patriotism. The Copia project, a direct response to that advice, is a long-term photographic examination of the peculiarities and complexities of the consumer-dominated culture in which we live. Through large scale photographs taken within both the big-box retail stores and the thrift shops that house our recycled goods, Copia explores not only the everyday activities of shopping, but the economic, cultural, social, and political implications of commercialism and the roles we play in self-destruction, over-consumption, and as targets of marketing and advertising. By scrutinizing these rituals and their environments, I hope that viewers will evaluate the increasing complexities of the modern world and their own role within it.

Copia is composed of several chapters, currently Retail, Thrift, Backrooms and currently Dark Stores, Ghostboxes and Dead Malls. These further document notions of social class, excess, and corporate ideologies. By combining photographs taken candidly with a medium-format film camera outfitted with a waist-level viewfinder, and studied compositions taken with a large format camera in thrift shops, I can capture lost excitement and overwhelmed, subsumed moments. The large-scale prints allow the viewer to stop and notice with a distanced perspective familiar places and things. Over time these images take on new meaning, ones anthropological and historical of an affluent society at the dawn of the 21st century. What we buy and what we use up becomes the evidence of our experience of this time.