Caption Gallery is pleased to announce a dual exhibition of photographs by Amy Stein and Brian Ulrich. The exhibition links two powerful photographic series, Ulrich’s recent “Dark Stores,” and “Stranded,” here presented for the first time.
“Dark Stores” examines the all-too-familiar landscape of global brands and big-box retail in the context of a market economy in crisis. His work is a form of visual sociology, providing a portrait of empty spaces, darkened outlets, and, by implication, people left out when the boom recedes.
Amy Stein’s “Stranded” offers us a vision of people at the mercy of forces beyond their control. Metaphorically, the images stand in for the people we don’t see in Ulrich’s photographs. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Stein had the idea to take portraits of motorists she saw stranded by the roadside. The series became, in her words, “a meditation on the despondence of the American psyche stuck in an unfamiliar space between distress and relief.”
The powerful, dystopic visions of Stein and Ulrich expose the transformation of human beings into consumers, with little power or agency. They recall Napoleon’s dictum: “In the eyes of the empire builders, men are not men but instruments.”