Eighty percent of everything ever built in America has been built in the last 50 years, and most of it is depressing, brutal, ugly, unhealthy, and spiritually degrading...”

This quote from the opening chapter of The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunsler (Touchstone, 1993) describes the urban spaces which are the subject of this book of photographs. Kunstler’s book describes the “automobile slums” that now surround our major cities. His book is a history and more importantly a social critique.

This portfolio of photographs, however, is not a critique. It is not a social document. While photographing, I found it interesting to consider how the vast expanses of parking lots around abandoned strip malls came to be: why fast food stands have classical adornments tacked on like footnotes, why the backs of shopping centers are more interesting than the fronts, how gas stations resemble the American flag. I thought about how twenty year old shopping plazas decay in a way not unlike two-hundred year old adobe churches.

These thoughts may have influenced the making the photographs. But the images are more about form than content; more about making a good photograph than making a social statement.


Ed Elberfeld 2007
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