They Are Not Here Any More

Artist Statement

“They Are Not Here Any More” is a series of 14 monochrome photographs documenting the remains of a demolished grocery store in Travelers Rest, South Carolina.

I used to shop there. Grocery stores are communities. They provide jobs, food, conversation.Now that the store is gone, what remains is worse than nothing. The concrete, tile, and asphalt prevent rain from replenishing the water table. The company’s ownership sees more value in holding on to ruined land than making it a grocery store again. The detritus left behind won’t biodegrade or decompose; it’s left behind because it’s not worth stealing or recycling.

I remember walking the aisles. When I took these photographs, I walked the marked tiles again, between the echoes in my memory and the engine noise on the highway. There was no one to talk to. They are not here any more.

I first encountered this place in 2001, and I made the final images 4 December 2023. The monochrome process draws out the bleak conditions of the weather and the site to evoke the crumbling public works of Soviet bloc brutalism in the era of the oligarchs. The sparse trees and haunted fog exacerbate the echoes of former occupants. These images speak of disregard for the environment in our expansionist economy. They recognize the perverse incentives in capitalist rent-seeking. They also reflect my existence with major depressive disorder, and the truth behind my artist’s persona: Everything has changed, and I’m the same ghost.

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