San Francisco

Brian Ulrich

Robert Koch Gallery

The ubiquitous Big Box is an irresistible, though problematic, subject for contemporary artists. In documenting these bloated retail havens (eleven such images made up this recent exhibition at Robert Koch Gallery), Chicago-based photographer Brian Ulrich sets himself the not uncomplicated task of addressing the perils of rampant consumerism without lapsing into simplistic, knee-jerk condemnation.

All but two of the pictures, culled almost entirely from the series “Copia,” 2002–2006, were taken in the American Midwest and are titled after their locations: Black River Falls, WI, 2006; Minneapolis, MN, 2004; Gurnee, IL, 2003, to name a few. (The remainder were shot in Edinburgh.) Ulrich focuses on emporiums that cater to the white middle class, and he alternates between showing them with and without shoppers. Either way, the pictures feel forlorn and lonely. The candid portraits capture

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