Gallery Views of Brian Ulrich: Copia-Retail, Thrift, and Dark Stores, 2001-11

August 27, 2011-February 26, 2012
East Wing, Photography Galleries

This insightful, decade-long, three-phase investigation of the American consumer psyche traces a route from exuberant excess to the bleak architectural landscapes of closed malls and empty parking lots. Through extensive travel across the United States, Ulrich documented for his first chapter, Retail, shoppers engrossed in navigating the abundance of goods found in the seemingly ubiquitous and vast enclosed malls and big-box stores. For these candid images, he initially relied on a hand-held camera with the view finder at waist level but later switched to a large-format view camera for his richly detailed pictures of architecture. Ulrich then turned his attention to workers in the second phase, Thrift, as they sought to bring order to the mountains of donated, discarded, and unwanted consumer products; thrift stores become a primary destination for a growing segment of the country's population. Lastly, in Dark Stores, Ghostboxes, and Dark Malls, he explored the impact of the 2008 financial crisis with haunting architectural landscapes of the interiors and exteriors of abandoned buildings.

Organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art, this exhibition was made possible by the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation. The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.