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Junk or Junque? Brooklyn Photographer Glamorizes Dollar Store Trash

Antonio Basler

As a frequent shopper at New York bargain and 99 cent stores, I often consider the aesthetics of the merchandise. They stock objects not available at Walmart or any of the big box stores, and wonder if this is because much of their inventory is not commercially viable on a large scale. Most Americans wouldn’t want things of such garish color and cheap construction in their homes, and so these plastic outcasts come here, to Brooklyn dollar stores, to live out the remainder of their sad retail existence.

For Brooklyn-based photographer Antonia Basler, this is fodder for still lives that are engaged with popular culture. Making formal constructions on studio backgrounds, Basler glorifies the mundane, elevating it to the level of art. These still lifes are simple—only a few objects combined with a colored backdrop in frame—however they point to the cultural connections these objects carry. By combining junk in a formal, color driven way, Basler lays bare the connotations of consumerism’s last stop.

Antonio Basler

Antonio Basler

Antonio Basler

Antonio Basler

Antonio Basler

Antonio Basler

Antonio Basler

Feature Shoot Contributing Editor Matthew Leifheit is an independent writer, curator, and photographer based in New York City.