Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Retro Photos of America's Malls in the 1980's

Throughout the 1980s, as America’s downtown districts declined in importance and the “big-box” stores began their slow march across the country, malls became increasing central to American popular culture, dominating the social life of a large swath of the population. In 1989 Michael Galinsky, a twenty-year-old photographer, drove across the country recording this change: the spaces, textures and pace that defined this era.
"In 1989, 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." Galinsky said. "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."
Malls Across America is filled with seemingly lost or harried families navigating their way through these temples of consumerism, along with playful teens, misfits, and the aged. There is a sense of claustrophobia to the images, even in those that hint at wide commercial expanses – a wall or a ceiling is always there to block the horizon. These photos never settle or focus on any one detail, creating the sense that they are stolen records of the most immediate kind.
"At the time, the mall was the new public space, the new community center where people would interact," Galinsky later said. "This was pre-Internet, pre-cellphone, there was smoking in malls, it was before the Gulf War. It was this weird moment in time where things were getting ready to change."

Photos from Malls Across America by Michael Galinsky, published by Steidl, 2013. © Michael Galinsky, courtesy Steidl, via Mail Online.

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