Staten Island Shoppers
June 3 - 27, 2010
Artist Christine Osinski began photographing shoppers in 1993 when she was a resident of Staten Island. Over the next two years, she frequented the harshly lit spaces of discount stores, grocery aisles, and shopping malls to create a series of portraits taken with a hidden medium-format camera and without looking through the viewfinder.
Reminiscent of Walker Evans' subway portraits and the street photographs of Helen Levitt, Osinksi stealthily documented the varied women, children, and occasional men out "hunting and gathering" in the mercantile excess of a mostly working-class borough of New York City. Her lens keenly captures many shoppers at a key decision-making moment: should I buy this? Others seem nearly paralyzed by the glut of options before them. While made more than a decade ago, Staten Island Shoppers takes on a haunting new relevance today, given the hardships today's shoppers face in the wake of a global economic crisis.
"As I did this work," Christine reflected on her project, "the promise of capitalism - gratification through shopping - clearly became an activity of diminishing returns, as I too became a hunter-gatherer, but of images."
Christine Osinski received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MFA from Yale University, and is currently Professor in the School of Art at The Cooper Union, New York. Osinski's work has been reviewed and published in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Art New England, The Village Voice, and DoubleTake, among many others. Photographs by Osinksi were presented by Blue Sky in 1987 and 1996, and have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Alice Austen House Museum, the Dallas Women's Museum, the Katonah Museum, the Bronx Council of the Arts, P.S.1, and Light Gallery, as well at international venues in China, Russia, New Zealand, and Europe. In 2005, Osinski became a Guggenheim Fellow, and has received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and The Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.