In 2001, after 9/11, U.S. politicians instructed Americans to grieve and mourn the national tragedy in the most American of ways: They told us to go shopping.
This call for consumption as a patriotic response to the 9/11 attacks baffled my guest, photographer Brian Ulrich, and inspired him to start what became a ten-year project investigating the phenomenon of American consumerism.
The project, entitled Copia: Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores, is divided into three sections. The first, Retail, takes us through box stores and mega malls; the 2nd examines second hand shops where once coveted items are donated by the truckload and sorted by employees and volunteers. The final section looks at the the eerie facades and interiors of malls and shopping complexes, abandoned or shut down in the wake of the 2008 economic collapse.
I met with Brian in New York and talked with him about the evolution of the Copia project over the last decade.
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