On the surface, Mark Hahn’s Empty Spaces project is simply a systematic catalog of vacant commercial spaces found in and around Tucson, Arizona. In this work, Hahn follows in the tradition of Eugene Atget who photographed Parisian shop windows in the early 1900’s – only there are no displays or products for sale in the empty storefronts that Hahn photographs. Beneath the surface of these photos lie the personal stories of those whose businesses and dreams have failed. The 2008-2009 recession wreaked havoc on small businesses across the USA, and the photos in this study document the real impact of this economic crisis.

The empty spaces in the Southwest are no different than the empty spaces found all across America. The loss captured within these spaces is universal and relates to all emotional, financial and personal hardship. In the current global recession, there is nowhere left to go. There is no new gold rush and no new economic boomtown for us to run to. What we have now is what surrounds us – more and more empty commercial spaces. In this collection, Hahn captures the vastness, beauty and sadness of these spaces.

Hahn studied at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. In the early 1980’s, he witnessed the collapse of the Detroit economy and the effect it had on the local businesses and on many people’s lives. At this time, Detroit’s official unemployment rate hit 20% for the first time in history. The real number was closer to 50%. More than half the Detroit population fled the city. Much of Detroit was left vacant and in ruins. A new desolation and a desperate urban landscape emerged. Much like people who lived through the Great Depression, Hahn’s experiences in Detroit forever changed his perception of the social-economic world that we live in. Hahn carries these experiences and the accompanying emotions forward into his Empty Spaces project.

For more information, contact the artist at markhahn2000@gmail.com.

Back to Main Page.

All images and content copyrighted 2012 by Mark Hahn, all rights reserved.