[Thrift stores are] where all the goods, once so sparkly and desirable end up, kind of what gets thrown over the castle walls. To me I see a class issue. The stores exist because there is a huge social class in this country that needs items cheap. What the intentions are of the store owners is always going to somewhat be based on commodity. The stuff here is used, it's been touched and that makes the biggest difference... It's a bizarre challenge to think of the endless piles of goods as still lifes, in the same way Walker Evans photographed depression era farmers and their homes. I also think of a quote from Andy Warhol, that if one was to simply lock up a department store as is, that in 20 years (perhaps less now), you could open it as a museum.
Chicago-based photographer Brian Ulrich has been documenting consumer culture for several years, going from big-box stores to grungy second-hand shops. His new series documents thrift stores across America. Often shooting medium- and large-format candid photographs, his work seems to capture both the hope and shabby despair that sometimes make up the shopping experience. In a new interview with Joerg Colberg, he discusses his work. An excerpt:
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