CHICAGO — Lynn Saville‘s photography series Vacancy captures storefronts, malls, parks, highways, and billboards across America. Existing now in states of transition, they largely appear deserted, and lifeless. Saville gives no explanation as to why these spaces are empty; there is no history or backstory to any of them. Instead, there is only a sense that this place exists currently empty.
These types of commercial vacancies exist from coast to coast. Though the majority of Saville’s photographs were shot in the two coastal cities of New York and Los Angeles, smaller cities like Columbus, Ohio, and Jersey City, New Jersey, also appear in the series. An empty JC Penney department store in Columbus offers square cushion-covered seats to those who wander in and discover that their store has been shuttered. I did a quick Google search for JC Penney stores in Columbus, however, and three locations popped up. What happened to this one? We’ll never know the answer because Saville does not give any additional information — perhaps that’s not even necessary.
Yet return to New York City, and no such department stores exist in this series. There, the spaces are smaller, more compact, and less suburban-looking. An empty storefront is lit only by a neon sign that reads SPACE FOR RENT and a number to call; in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a ladder appears in a glass-walled lobby. Don’t throw rocks.
Across the country in Los Angeles, everything stands a bit further apart — there’s far more space in-between. Cars zoom by, palm trees line streets, and a constant sense of the cinematic surreal underlies the landscape. Was this storefront part of a movie, or does it just look like it could be?
“One can’t seem to escape the proximity of the movie business, [and so] by association, a vacant warehouse with old signs stenciled on its facade easily suggests a movie-set version of abandonment,” Saville tells Hyperallergic.
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter where the photos themselves were shot. These spaces have been stripped bare of objects and personal items that once gave its walls, corners, and nooks a feel of lived-in warmth. Each photograph reminds that this space used to matter, and that one day it might receive new occupants, and a fresh beginning.
Lynn Saville’s series Vacancy was recently on view at Carrie Schneider Gallery (230 W Superior Street, Chicago).
Al-Hadid’s new mosaic features the famed clock that hung at the entrance of the original station until the building was demolished in the 1960s.
The excavation project also yielded Old Kingdom-era amulets, stoneware, and daily-use tools.
Join the New-York Historical Society on February 10 for a virtual conversation about our changing relationship to the natural world with Julie Decker, John Grade, and LaMont Hamilton.
The steel spike clad in gold and silver commemorated the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869.
Thanks to a $3.3 million grant from the state’s Creative Corps, artists can now apply to bring the project to their neighborhood.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including Alicia Piller, Brad Phillips, Mulyana, the MexiCali Biennial, and more.
Her solo exhibition at the Los Angeles institution demonstrates how natural light can turn an overlooked, everyday setting into a sublime landscape.
Presented by Northwestern’s Block Museum and McCormick School of Engineering, this new exhibition seeks empathy at the boundaries of life. On view in Evanston, Illinois.
Nicola López and Paula Wilson’s exhibition Becoming Land considers anthropocentric relationships with New Mexico’s desert landscapes.
A festival dedicated to Davinci’s The King Show celebrates the LA artist’s trippy remixing of stock footage, Hollywood cinema, and theater.
Located in Des Moines, Iowa, this residency for emerging and established artists includes studio and living space, a $1,000 monthly stipend, and more.
20th Century Indian Art: Modern, Post-Independence, Contemporary surveys the many distinct aspects of art in South Asia.
Moving too fast on your commute, looking out of the corner of your eye one second too late, and you might miss HOTTEA’s yarn installations.