Sleep Country, 2008
ink jet print
106 x 138.9 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 2010.88)
Susan Dobson takes the urban landscape as her subject, her goal being to encompass "themes of sameness and lack of autonomy in consumer culture." In her "Retail" series, Dobson has photographed box stores and digitally greyed-out their facades, leaving only the outline of architecture. Viewers, as a result of their travels through the consumer culture landscape, can often identify the buildings from their silhouettes: the corporate shapes of Wal Mart, The Home Depot, Chuck E Cheese and Quiznos have certain distinguishing features that make them recognizable, on either a conscious or subconscious level. Dobson depicts these box stores under a cheery blue sky symbolic of economic optimism. Yet the isolation of such structures in desolate patches of sometimes aging asphalt imparts a gloomy edge to the works. Dobson's photographs explore how the surface markers and facades of the city, expressive of consumer economies, become norms within both the urban setting and personal value psyche.