Brian Ulrich: Copia—Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores, 2001-2011

January 18—March 10, 2013
Opening January 18, 2013

Click here to read a review in Style Weekly.

This exhibition features 58 color photographs from Brian Ulrich’s Copia series (2001-2011), a three-part project that confronts viewers with an in-depth examination of consumerism in American culture. Initially using a handheld camera with the view finder at waist level, Ulrich remained anonymous while documenting shoppers engrossed in navigating the abundance of goods found in vast enclosed malls and big box stores. The second phase focuses on thrift stores, the collecting places for discarded and unwanted consumer products, yet a primary destination for a growing segment of the United State’s population. The concluding group features haunting images of the impact of the 2008 financial crisis, highlighted by the exteriors and interiors of dark stores, ghost boxes, and dead malls.

Brian Ulrich: Copia—Retails, Thrift, and Dark Stores, 2001-2011, was organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art. This exhibition was made possible by the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation.

Its presentation in Richmond is made possible by generous support from the VCU School of the Arts Dean’s Office.


Brian Ulrich was born 1971 in Northport, NY. His photographs portraying contemporary consumer culture reside in major museum collections such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Ulrich earned his MFA in photography at Columbia College Chicago and a BFA in photography at the University of Akron. Since finishing his graduate studies in 2004, Ulrich has had solo exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago; the Julie Saul Gallery; and the Robert Koch Gallery. His work has also been included in many group exhibitions, in venues such as the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Photography; Galerie f5.6 in Munich; the Krannert Art Museum; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center; and the Carnegie Museum.

In 2009 he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. In 2011, Aperture, in conjunction with the Cleveland Museum of Art published his first monograph, Is This Place Great or What. His work has been recently featured in the New York Times Magazine; Orion Magazine; Mother Jones; the Chicago Tribune; Artforum; Harper’s; and as a frequent contributor to the like-minded magazine Adbusters.

Brian Ulrich is an Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Photography and Film department.