Retail

Susan Dobson


Susan Dobson’s recent body of work, Retail (2008) continues her exploration of architecture and land use in the suburban landscape. In this work, she examines the makeshift nature of retail architecture and consumer culture’s dependence on the automobile. The series of large, colour inkjet prints depict franchise retail outlets set against optimistic blue skies and vast, deserted parking lots. The structures are digitally masked with an asphalt colour. The resulting large gray boxes highlight the unimaginative and provisional designs of big retail stores, while the empty lots, stripped of cars (and hence of purpose), are transformed into urban wastelands. Dobson’s images foreshadow the future of temporary architecture and of rampant consumerism during a time of economic uncertainty and growing environmental awareness. Seen within this context, writes Robin Metcalfe, “Dobson’s ghostly big-box stores glisten like a digital mirage, prescient images of a doomed landscape.” The photographs describe the future perfect – that which will have been – an ominous future, cast back in time.