Friday, 3 January 2020

brick-and-mortem or from mall rat to snap chat

The curatorial team at Hyperallergic showcases the photographic essays documenting, unflinchingly and not just the empty, echoing nostalgia that ghost malls (see previously here, here and here) are usually treated with, the decline and decay of retail spaces after the pivot and paradigm shift away from the shopping centre and high street to online sales and virtual shop fronts of artist Philip Buehler.
The procession through the panels, the exhibits—buffeted with the memories we ourselves burden the scenes of wrack and ruin with—are also a eulogy for the idea of the third place, that oasis that was neither home nor work but a liminal spot for meaningful congregation—one’s social hour previously spent at church and then at the mall (most of the indoors anachronism are mainly food courts with a few anchor stores attached). Despite this gastronomical attempt at rehabilitation, a revanche and reorganisation of cafรฉ culture packaged and commodified in the most tedious and antithetical ways possible has not fulfilled that role of the third place, nor has another dominant technology and lifestyle company with the hubris to try to become the new town square. Though this may be the day we finally put aside that artificial divide we’ve created between worlds on-line and off, it is high time we begin to acknowledge the importance of these oases and transitional places, no matter where they exist. Buehler show runs through January at a gallery in the Lower East Side, Manhattan.