Sunday, July 27, 2008

An Image A Week: Brian Ulrich

Brian Ulrich's exhaustive examination of American consumer culture, Copia, is simultaneously one of the most illuminating and off-putting projects that's been produced in quite a while. The overt commentary on the post-911 American condition and our gratuitous need to consume goods is powerfully and subtly delivered in Ulrich's images. Despite the pointedness of the content, the images in Copia retain an open-ended, neutral quality, leaving the photographs open to interpretation. The extent to which America has fallen into the void of consumerism is staggeringly evident in Ulrich's photographs of seemingly endless big box retail warehouses (Granger, IN 2003) and in the vacant stares of mall pedestrians (New York, NY 2004). The blind faith in consumerism to heal the wounds of a troubled economy has subsequently given rise to extreme patriotism. Ultimately, Copia does offer a solution to this dilemma; and how could it. Ulrich has simply distilled the psyche of contemporary American culture with a critical, discerning eye. The images gain their power from asking questions, not answering them.

Black River Falls, WI 2006

Image © Brian Ulrich