new-york

Jim Dow

Janet Borden, Inc.

What taxonomical photography has in common with lepidopterology, poisonfrog collecting, and train spotting is that it, too, can be a means of nurturing an idiosyncratic obsession. It combines the scientism of typological investigation with the more or less obvious charm of an eccentric interest cultivated over time.

Jim Dow’s recent photographic series of British storefronts, “Corner Shops of Britain,” 1983–93, offers a glimpse into this kind of obsession nurtured over a decade. Forty 8-by-10 color contact prints depict the façades of family-run businesses, once keystones in the social and architectural fabric of the high street. Victims less of the recession than of suburbanization—of the one-stop park-and-shop megastore—they have been disappearing at a rate of over 3,000 per annum. Here, as with the grain silos, mine shafts, and other monuments to the demise of industry documented by the

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