Shopping Cartographies


“Shopping Cartographies.” In The Vancouver Carts: Photographs by Kelly Wood. James Patten, ed. London: Black Dog Publishers, 2016.

A catalogue essay to accompany the exhibition and publication of The Vancouver Carts by photographer Kelly Wood.

Excerpt: “Kelly Wood’s photographs record a mostly hidden world, capturing the end stage of late capitalism and its collateral damage of homelessness. Each cart is caught in a moment of isolation, installed fleetingly in its environment (street sale, forest, sidewalk). Showing shopping carts full of the carefully chosen and collected possessions of itinerant dwellers on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the photos tell a starkly different tale of consumption, possession and dispossession than Fleury’s upscale model does. Wood’s photos of the carts document populations that are often rendered invisible—the owners are not present in these portraits–-such that focus shifts to the carts themselves and their content. Many of the photographs document souvenirs, artifacts of former lives, memories, and the necessary items of everyday life. Sun shines through the trees onto a shopping cart hung with plastic bags full of recyclable pop cans; in a cart parked on an empty urban street a microwave balances precariously atop other electronics and a well-packed suitcase; a collection of living plants spills over the edge of wire mesh, caught in a rare moment of Vancouver sunshine. The easy split between homed-consumer and homeless-beggar/binner is complicated through these documentations. Wood’s photographs are peculiarly evocative of the contradictions of late capitalism, of its enveloping and expulsive forces, but additionally of personal choice and needs, of a human impulse to amass.”

Read the full version here.

This essay was shortlisted for an OAAG Art Writing award in 2017.

About Kirsty Robertson

Kirsty Robertson is Associate Professor of contemporary art and Director of museum and curatorial studies at Western University, Canada.
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