The idea for The Decline of Mall Civilization by Michael Galinsky came about almost accidentally in 2010, when the author asked a friend to lend him a scanner to digitise a collection of negatives that had never been developed. It was then that he stumbled upon some old photos that candidly captured life inside shopping malls, a consumer culture that has since been eroded by e-commerce.
When the pictures were put online they immediately went viral, hence prompting Galinsky to publish his first book Malls Across America, which became an immediate success.
At the beginning of 2019, the follow up project, The Decline of Mall Civilization, kicked off when the book was put up on the international crowdfunding portal Kickstarter, beating all pledge expectations.
The author, in the nineties, described the complexities of the shopping mall. He saw it as a sort of “privatised public square”, focusing not only on the people and their interactions with each other but also on how they interacted with the space.
From Detroit, to Chicago, to South Dakota and further, Galinsky visited, photographed and told the story of some fifteen malls. In this book he recounts the heyday of the “mall culture” that reigned in the 80s and 90s, in Ronald Reagan’s America. With the rise of the Internet, shops and malls have often been reduced to
ghost towns. Looking at these images now is not only a reminder of things gone by, but a cautionary tale, told through raw and surprising images, of a past that will not return.
When The Decline of Mall Civilization first appeared on the crowdfunding platform, many people noted resemblances between the pictures taken by Michael Galinsky and the sets of TV’s Stranger Things 3.
The reason is simple: the writers of the series – the Duffer brothers – were born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, not far from three of the malls photographed by Michael in the 1980s. It’s therefore very likely that they went to those same malls back then.
Most of the images recognised by the fans are in fact from South Square, Northgate and University Mall, which were three shopping centres near the places where Matt and Ross Duffer grew up.
The book features a beautiful hardcover with glossy UV serigraphy and black hot foil printing. On the top or front cover, the image is in bas-relief, as is the author’s name. The title is also hot foil printed. The final product is then further embellished down to the jacket made of durable and lasting FSC-certified Wibalin Buckram paper, which is completely recyclable.