Is This Place Great or What: Artifacts and Photographs
Exhibition Dates: March 22-May 5, 2012
Conversation with the artist:
Tuesday, April 17
The large-scale color prints of Brian Ulrich present us with a strange contemporary drama of consumer culture. Earlier work Copia
(2002 -2006) shows the alignment of consumerism with patriotism. There is indeed something grandios about the way Ulrich captures the lines of registers in a big-box store, something determined in the gaze of a man selecting a new fishing pole, something ominous in the shot of the last rack of clothing for sale in an oversized empty shop. The seductive even addictive power of consumerism is evident in the shots. There is a strange disconnectedness in the shoppers who seem to hunger for more- even as they consume grow more ravenous.Thrift
(2005 - 2007) and Dark Stores
(2008 - 2009) continue to explore the theme but with different significance and weight. Thrift
shifts the local to the second-hand marketplace where buyers scavenge, hunt, and pick through the piles, racks, and bins of someone else's discarded clothing, toys and electronics. We are struck with the sheer waste of consumerism as much as we are let down by its inability to save the vacant fronts we see later in Dark Stores
. The work engages social, political, and economic realities of the American strada. The desire to consume overwhelms all levels- rich and poor alike are targets of marketing, advertising, and the consumerist machine. Ulrich shows the wheels and gears turn in all of us and inspires us to question our relationship to these roles and to consider if not revaluate our place within the monster machine.
In this Ulrich's third show with the gallery we will be encouraged to take one last look back at the American retail apparatus, which he will frame in a post-war historical context. This perspective to be achieved through pairings of his work with vintage objects collected- a restored sign that reads "Fast Food" and pe-barcode labels from obsolete products. We recognize these objects as artifacts. Their placement beside the images works to push Ulrich's work into history as well.
Exhibition coincides with Is This Place Great or What
, a major monograph published by Aperture Foundation. Text includes an essay by Juliet B. Schorr and 95 color plates. Gallery show to be followed by a survey exhibition of Ulrich's work organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art; exhibition will travel to the Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University and the North Carolina Museum of Art over the next two years.
For more information please contact Julie Saul Gallery