I am madly in love with photography and it does not take much for me to fall head-over-heals for an image. I can be a harsh critic but at the end of the day all I need is the right amount of light and I am melting away. Lets just say, I am an easy photo-date.
That being said, every once in a while a body of photographic work goes beyond and ignites something so hypnotic and wonderful within me that I cant even explain it in words. Sounds intense, doesn't it? It is.
In his past work, Brian Ulrich never really tapped into that place for me. I appreciated his work and understood its importance, but the images themselves were not that jaw dropping and did not resonate for me. He always existed in my intellectual plain but never struck me as the most interesting visual experience. Until now.
Image by Brian Ulrich
I got a glimpse of this particular work when he presented for Aperture at New York Photo Festival a few years ago. He was still traveling and shooting on his glorious Guggenheim (jealous!). But, it was not until today that I was reminded of the work and taken back at its beauty. Fraction Magazine published a short review of the project Dark Stores, Ghost Boxes and Dead Malls and I was mesmerized.
This work is so touching to me because in some ways it represents the fall of capitalism. I have been desperate to see this country transition away from big box stores and return to its roots of a locally made and self sustaining culture. That is clearly the anarchist within me coming to the surface (thank Ulrich). I know I am supposed to look at these and be sad for all the people who lost their jobs - which I really am to some degree - but I am also struck by the beauty of its decay. Not just the disintegration of a physical structure, but the dismantling of a way of life. As much as I am happy that we, a society, may be evolving - it equally scares me to death. The uncertainty and the insecurity of it all gives me the shivers.
Image by Brian Ulrich
That is why I have so madly fallen for these images...because they terrify me and make me uncomfortable. That is what I need. I need to be taken out of my comfort zone and be challenged. I want a picture to do that sometimes. Ulrich has done just that, but with the grace of beauty to ease my transition.