Doug Aitken (American born 1968), “Untitled (Shopping Cart)”, 2000; 48 5/8 x 56 5/8 inches; Chromogenic print mounted on plexiglass
Selected by Lauren Poggi
The most unconventionally lovely place in the world is a parking lot at night. During the day a parking lot is a crowded wasteland in which everyone is searching for the closest spot to the door, while practically crashing into each other while racing at any given opportunity to avoid walking ten feet more than you would if you parked three spots down. That is an every day occurrence which stress is only increased on the weekends and during the holiday season. But at night a parking lot is an entirely different realm. After all the stores have closed and the employees have ventured on home, the parking lot becomes completely desolate. There are hundreds, sometimes thousands of yards of empty space, divided into meaningless lines when no one is there to use them. The lighting there is as vast as it comes. There are towering light poles whose luminance expands over a good amount of concrete. The lights are so powerful that they are almost intimidating when you are alone.
The image by Aitken is displaying a beautifully captured parking lot. The concrete ground is a teal/turquoise hue and glazed with a glossy sheen that glistens in the light. There are yellow lines indicating parking spots, but in this moment they are just an added detail to the concrete. In the background there is a short concrete barrier surrounding the borders of the parking lot. Along the borders there are three lights that stand within the parking lot’s constraints. Far out in the distance, not much higher that the top of the barrier, there are lights from the city blurred in the night. And in the middle of this parking lot, there sits a lone shopping cart. It is red, and looks to be as generic as they come, yet it is special. It is completely isolated in this atmosphere. The contrast of the red against the cool hues throughout the majority of the image is quite lovely. It brings life back into the emptiness and abandonment that is normally associated with scenes in parking lots at night. It allows it to be seen in a positive perspective on a place where most people overlook.