Memories of American Malls / Hyperallergic

“Three Girls Smoking” from Michael Galinksy’s project “Malls Across America”(all images courtesy of the artist)

“Three Girls Smoking” from Michael Galinksy’s project “Malls Across America”(all images courtesy of the artist)

CHICAGO — I remember my first mall — Lincolnwood Town Center just north of the Indian and Hasidic Jewish blocks of small business on Chicago’s Devon Avenue. Too far to walk and just close enough that driving there with my grandma was a treat not a chore, the two-floor mall was my young girl consumer dreamhouse come true — giant windows, epic food court, brightly lit storefronts, and carts that sold cheap fake gold jewelry. In the center of the mall, a fountain of mermaids spouting water from their tails welcomed visitors to toss in shiny pennies — make a wish and hope for something, and then keep shopping. My grandma and I stopped going to the mall when Waldenbooks closed and I began arguing with her about the clothes she picked out for me at Carson Pirie Scott. But the memory of that mall stayed with me for years after my girl breakup with it. A symbol of American consumer culture and capitalist empire glorified into a one-size-fits-all space, the mall is more American than apple pie, and shinier than that penny I just threw into the suburban lake-like fountain.

In Michael Galinsky’s project Malls Across Americathe artist unearths a series of photographs from 1989 that he shot of malls from New York to South Dakota and Seattle. Inspired by the likes of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and photographer William Eggelston, Galinsky first wandered into the Smith Haven Mall in Garden City, Long Island, and started shooting. Fascinated by the coming together of disparate people and social groups, as well as the more mundane aspect of rampant consumerism, Galinsky followed up with a mall-filled road trip to be compiled in a book forthcoming in November; it will be published by Steidl-Miles.

Read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/89022/memories-of-american-malls/