Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day of the Dead (Malls)

What is it that's so addictive about Labelscar and its attendant Flickr page, and by extension the drive to track down and document dead malls across the nation/world for the public record?

Going beyond a retail history, socioeconomic, or even an architectural standpoint, there is something charged and visceral about viewing and obsessively cataolguing these rotting cathedrals slashed across our landscape. The "living time capsule" aspect is surely a huge part of it. "What transpired in this place ten, fifteen, twenty years ago?" we ask ourselves. "Who tried on clothes under these light fixtures, amidst this stucco and wood paneling? Who cried during their smoke break on this loading dock, now overgrown with weeds? What Sophoclean dramas played themselves out in this food court?"

For this blogger, though, the most enthralling aspect of the dead mall sites is the way in which they reveal and obsessively elaborate on hideous emptiness. An abandoned mall suggests something more than a mere ghost town. A bright, loud, exapansive enclosure catered entirely to the needs and desires of the American human being that has been cast aside and left to decay is both pitiable and frightening. "Please enter us," these malls said before they were shuttered. "We can give you so much, we want only to help and serve you, we can make you happy"; shadows of echoes from the past, now, that are sucked into a yawning void.

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