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Visiting Artist: Stephen Crompton

November 23, 2015
k2121 South Korhman Hall
5:00 p.m.

In the 1950’s, with suburban flight on the rise, the shopping mall was created as a new and improved, climate controlled, town center. As indoor private properties, developers attempted to engineer an environment that could instill a sense of euphoria in shoppers, and fuel the need to spend in order to heighten the satisfaction. It proved a phenomenal success that was replicated across the nation.

But ultimately, when tax incentives run dry, when newer retail spaces are constructed, and when Internet shopping becomes the standard, the malls struggle to survive. With ever-increasing vacancies, the decline of shopping malls as retail properties has prompted repurposing. Throughout the nation malls are finding new occupants in unconventional, often local, independent retail and non-retail tenants in an attempt to prolong the life of the mall. Occupants such as karate schools, dance studios, artist studios and even churches, combined with the ever-present cult of the so-called “mallwalker”, show a movement of the shopping mall away from retail mecca and towards community center. As the mall was originally conceived with the intention of tackling the isolation of suburban sprawl by bringing the people together in a communal space, are these places now a vision restored?

Stephen Crompton is a British filmmaker and photographer whose work explores the American-made landscape. His work has featured in festivals and exhibitions in the US and abroad, including the Virginia Film Festival, Strange Beauty Film Festival, Athens Film and Video Festival, Insight Festival and Voices from the Warehouse District. He received an MFA in Film and Video Production and an MFA in Photography from the University of Iowa. He currently serves as Media Production Coordinator and Lecturer in Communication at the University of Tampa.