The country’s most well-known dead mall, Dixie Square, is approaching the end of its thirty-year life as a ruin. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently announced the allocation of $5 million to raze the 800,000 square-foot structure south of Chicago. Demolition is expected to begin next month.
The Last Days of Dixie Square seeks to document this final chapter in the mall’s history with digital photography, video, audio recordings and interviews. After Dixie Square’s final moments of stillness give way to a cataclysm of falling brick and cinderblock, Last Days will be its visual and auditory eulogy.
Much loved by urban explorers, the site has been photographed regularly throughout its decomposition. In addition to producing new imagery, Last Days will function as a survey of creative work inspired by Dixie Square. This archival collection, composed of photographs culled from the past, will animate the disordering processes forced by human and non-human life forms and an unforgiving Midwestern climate.
Certain to be a contested symbol, the leveling of America’s first suburban mall is ripe with social and cultural implications. Given Dixie Square's dual identity as an architecture of loss and a feral garden of rebirth and renewal, the structure’s passing will spark celebration in some and lament in others. Through the lens of Dixie Square’s last days, we’ll examine the cultural motif of abandonment, the arc of our consumerist tradition, and the value of ruined space.
Start with the wikipedia page.
If you're intrigued, read this great newsletter article by the slyly dry-witted Center for Land Use Interpretation. Here’s their Land Use Database entry on Dixie Square. Notice the photographer has only taken photographs of the structure’s exterior.
Dixie Square (zone edit) is a twenty-minute portrait of the mall over three seasons, shot more than two years ago, and Dixie Square (skate edit) chronicles a day of flirtatious winter recreation within the structure.
Finally, an article covering the demolition’s announcement.
The documentation phase of Last Days will take place between November 1, 2010 and early December, encompassing Dixie Square’s last days of relative integrity and the first ten to twenty days of its four to six month demolition. Interviews will also be conducted during this time. Over the following four months, photographs will be processed, video edited, prints made and essays commissioned, culminating in a gallery exhibition this coming spring. The Last Days book will be designed, printed, and distributed within a year of the November demolition.
Funds will go toward the acquisition of a DSLR camera, transportation to and from Chicago, the printing of ten large-scale archival digital prints, the authoring of several hundred DVDs with printed jackets, the commissioning of essays, design work, and the publishing of 200 copies of the Last Days book. A detailed breakdown of funds allocation is available upon request.