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Continental Drift

Empty Retail captures New York City’s vacated retail spaces, currently with a focus on Manhattan. Generally speaking, vacancy rates have increased in the City over the past ten years, with dramatic increases in Staten Island and the Bronx. The causes for the increased rate include rising online shopping, dramatically increased rents in some neighborhoods, shifting consumer patterns (increased expenditure on services, decreased expenditure on goods), increased property taxes, the shifting demographics of inhabitants and so on.

The resulting empty spaces make for rich semiotix opportunities, as the formal arrangement of the interiors, the lighting, the bare shelves and the scattered detritus inspire a variety of reflections: Who shopped there? How long did the store exist? What relationship did the store have to the neighborhood? What caused the store’s demise? What will the next business be?

These spaces were discovered by chance as I explored various neighborhoods by foot. Judging from appearances, the extinct businesses ranged from locally owned convenience stores to high-end fashion and accessory boutiques. The fit and finish of the floors, the countertops and even the doorways possess traces of once active social spaces. The dejected remnants of what was subordinate one’s thoughts of what could be, leaving the viwer in an interstitial void.

Empty Retail, Chelsea

Empty Retail, Chelsea, Manhattan, 2019.

Empty Retail, Financial District

Empty Retail, Financial District, Manhattan, 2019.

Former Dry Cleaner, Brooklyn

Former Dry Cleaner, Brooklyn, 2019.

Former Office Supplies, Chelsea

Former Office Supplies, Chelsea, Manhattan, 2019.

Former Cobbler, Financial District

Former Cobbler, Financial District, Manhattan, 2019.

Former Jewelry Store, Upper East Side

Former Jewelry Store, Upper East Side, Manhattan, 2019.