In 1989, following in the footsteps of Frank, Winogrand, and Eggleston, I drove across the country and documented malls across America
In 1989, following in the footsteps of Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and William Eggleston, I drove across the country and documented malls across America. I had a cheap Nikon FG-20 and an even cheaper lens - but I had a lot of passion.
I shot about 30 rolls of slide film in malls from Long Island to North Dakota to Seattle. It was hard to tell from the images where they were taken, and that was kind of the point. I was interested in the creeping loss of regional differences. I thought a lot about Frank's "The Americans" as we drove from place to place without any sense of place.
A few years later, I set up a few showings of the slides - most notably at the Threadwaxing Space in NY - when my band sleepyhead played (the song playing with the images above is "Punk Rock City USA" by said band). Then I put them back in their boxes and occasionally thought about them.
I have always thought that images gain much more meaning with time. Looking at the mall slides it's clear that their time has come. Last fall, I took them out, borrowed a scanner and loaded in about 160 of the stronger images. I posted a few on facebook and they got a great response. I started to work on putting together a book.
About 12 years ago, I published a book of rock photos called Scraps. I paired the images with short essays that friends wrote about being in bands, touring, and art in general. I wanted to do the same kind of thing with this book.
About a month ago, while waiting for the writers to write, I noticed some amazing Bruce Davidson subway photos on my brother-in-law's facebook page. They had been linked to a site called How to be a Retronaut. I figured the site would like my mall photos. I figured right. What I didn't realize was how the images would connect. The site didn't bother to tell me that they had posted them, but I found out when other sites began to re-post them. In a couple of days, the photos had been shared on facebook and twitter thousands of times. In fact, they were so popular that they crashed the Retronaut site a few times.
With this campaign, I want to fund the printing of a run of books. Funders can get a book, a print, or a book and a print. I need to pre-sell 500 books to pay for this run.
In the meantime, my partners and I are finishing up our film Battle for Brooklyn. We will be traveling to a number of festivals with that film and I am working on setting up screenings of the mall slides (and the Scraps work)- with spoken word and music. First stop Toronto- Drake Hotel- May 3 - 7 to 9 pm. Hope to see you there.
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