Cleveland-based photographer Seph Lawless‘s first job was in a bustling Ohio mall. Today, that same mall appears in his photo series and book Black Friday: The Collapse of the American Shopping Mall — a haunting series that pays homage to these victims of the recession and the online shopping revolution.
His photos really need no further introduction, and so instead of spending time describing what you could simply scroll down and see, we sat down with Lawless (digitally) to talk about the hows and whys behind this eerie photo book.
PetaPixel: What was your inspiration for this project?
Seph Lawless: I wanted Americans to see what was happening to their country from the comfort of their suburban homes and smartphones. I didn’t think the problems we face as a country would change unless we faced these problems and I thought we could start by simply looking at them.
I knew if I portrayed these images creatively enough, they would have a very deep impact on the viewer. And if you’re an artist that can move someone with your art even for a brief moment, then I think it’s the artists’ responsibility to challenge the viewer and promote some form of activism.
Art is much too powerful not to fully engage it, even exploit it, if it means the betterment of humanity. So I decided to shove these images into as many people’s faces as I could. I used popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share these images and it was a very effective way to reach Americans.
PP: How did you go about finding these places? And getting access?
SL: Just traveling around. Most cities in the Rust Belt region of America are filled with places because of loss of manufacturing jobs that resulted in massive population loss. Leaving literal ghost towns scattered throughout parts of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Getting in is a challenge at times. Boards can be hard to remove. Sometimes climbing to even get to a point of entry is dangerous. Look For More Here!