Lands of Lonely Consumption


Credits

Share

At last month’s Noorderlicht Photography Festival Nadine Stijns, (based in Den Haag) integrated the sterile environments of her latest series “After-Hours Shopping Mall”, featuring empty shopping complexes in Beijing within an equally austere exhibition space in Groningen. Stijns installed her large-scale prints in such a way as to mimic the empty architectural components of her imagery. The photographs—produced during a residence in Beijing—depict various kiosks and corners of high-traffic shopping centers each closed or covered up to elicit a bizarre sense of absence within these pseudo-dormant spaces of commerce. 


The installation, however, pushed the photographs themselves into a world of consumption and showed that these meticulously framed and lighted images; meant to preserve aspects of the original display, hinted at a world of exchange and commerce hovering just outside the image. “After-Hours Shopping Mall” allowed the viewer to trespass into a closed public space while simultaneously bringing the commercial and public into an environment meant for contemplation and aesthetic appreciation. In the age of the metropolis (this year’s Noorderlicht theme) might the gallery mimic the shopping mall and vice versa?   


Although urbanisation, globalisation, commercialisation may swirl around the periphery and inflect Stijns’ work, her photographs nevertheless present moments of consumer calm. This repose brings about a new engagement with the notion of metropolis. In Beijing, a city of nearly 20.000.000 residents, there are of course still corners of solitude—though these corners may exist amidst the buzz of florescent lighting and shine of polished floors.  


Related