Published by VCUarts Anderson Gallery. Edited and with introduction by Ashley Kistler. Text by Will Steacy. Interview by Ashley Kistler.
Over the past four years, American photographer Brian Ulrich (born 1971) has collected found images and objects that offer an idiosyncratic history of postwar consumerism. Featured in this volume are images printed by Ulrich from long-buried newspaper negatives documenting the "Great Prosperity" of the 1940s and 50s that he acquired from private collectors on eBay. He explains: "Almost all of the pictures were taken with a Speed Graphic press camera equipped with flash bulbs, which produces a very specific and, in my opinion, wonderful photographic language that goes well beyond our understanding of Weegee’s street photographs, for instance." An extensive cache of salvaged Polaroids depicting shoplifters evokes one consequence of the "Great Regression" of the 1980s and 90s, reinforcing just how successfully the previous era manufactured and exalted desire as the indelible core of a consumer culture. Objects such as neon signage, department store door pulls, architectural plans and an array of other documents extend this captivating narrative.
PUBLISHER VCUARTS ANDERSON GALLERY
BOOK FORMAT Paperback, 8.5 x 11 in. / 72 pgs / 27 color / 21 duotone.
PUBLISHING STATUS PUB DATE 3/31/2014 Active
DISTRIBUTION D.A.P. EXCLUSIVE CATALOG: SPRING 2014 p. 103
PRODUCT DETAILS ISBN 9780935519013TRADE LIST PRICE: $20.00 CDN $25.00
AVAILABILITY In stock
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This long-awaited first monograph presents Brian Ulrich's decade-long exploration of the shifting tectonic plates that make up American consumerism. The photographer focuses in part on the architectural legacies of a retail-driven economy in the midst of collapse--shopping malls on the brink of demolition, empty big box stores and other retail structures in transition. But Ulrich does more than sketch the fraying surfaces of a shopping-obsessed culture; he also offers clear-eyed yet sympathetic portraits of teenaged shoppers lost in reverie over a pair of shoes, thrift-store mavens determined to find the best deal and families in search of that perfect purchase. Cinematic and utterly engrossing, these portraits are interspersed among the forlorn landscapes of empty parking lots and foreclosed malls. Ulrich gets under the skin of the current financial crisis, tracing a palpable economic trajectory from irrational exuberance to debt-laden hangover and providing a sobering document of the American consumer psyche in crisis in the first decade of the twenty-first century.