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Read Uncommon Places

Read Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places

“Uncommon Places: The Complete Works” presented a definitive collection of the landmark series, and in the span of a decade has become a contemporary classic.

Beautiful photos of ugly places. The color and lighting are lovely. He lends a loving eye to the peeling storefront, the kitschy motel decor, the empty intersections crisscrossed with wires. It doesn’t feel like he is mocking the people or places he photographs, but accepts them for what they are. Some of the images are hard to separate from retroness, especially ones featuring a lot of old cars, but some of the places are as familiar today as they were fifty years ago. I’m always confused and enticed by the story of abandoned places and buildings. So much of the West still feels empty and worn down.

I’m not sold on the name Uncommon Places except as counterpoint: to me these places feel very commonplace, anyplace, everyplace. Americana in all its consumerist, sprawling, dingy glory and decay.

At least some of the collection is viewable on his website.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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