Brooklyn-based painter Angelina Gualdoni was in the midst of some photographic studies of what she calls “‘terrain vague’ areas around Chicagoland,” when she became interested in “a mall that had been abandoned for the better part of twenty years.” She started to produce a few paintings of it. Each painting required “several days of pouring and staining,” after which she “employed taping to establish crisp architectural lines,” using “thicker, more viscous oil paint to build up figures, whether it’s weeds, dirt, or trash.”
Of course, it turns out this is the infamous Dixie Square Mall of Blues Brothers fame, “in which police cars were driven through the stores and walkways.” Now, after two decades of slow structural collapse, “multiple rapes and at least one murder have occurred there.”
“The place itself is strange, scary, sad, and amazing all at once,” Gualdoni writes. “Inside the mall there’s moss growing over much of the cement and laminate ground, trees (sometimes) growing inside the atrium, gangs that claim it with tags (though I’ve never encountered anyone else in there) and some wild dogs who call it home (I have been chased out by them). The place is entirely water-logged and creaky, damp and fetid. And used as a dumping ground, as well, for trash and toys, from both individuals and institutions.”
As Gualdoni is careful to point out: “it is illegal to enter, and is trespassing. Aside from the police, the dogs, and possible vagrants, there are also just genuinely concerned people at the day care center nearby who will drive through looking for you, if they see you enter the mall, concerned that you may be suicidal or crazy.” Or perhaps undead.
Of course, Gualdoni has other, equally eye-catching architectural work –
– on view at Chicago’s Kavi Gupta Gallery, and it’s certainly worth taking a look. And if Urban Exploration is your thing, don’t miss BLDGBLOG’s own tour through the self-intersecting topological knotwork of tunnels and abandoned bunkers coiling underneath Greater London.
(Thanks to the DC madman, Lonnie Bruner, for putting Angelina and I in touch).