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  • Writer's pictureBA Ciccolella

With Malls in Jeopardy, Younger Generations turn to Art to Reminisce

Words and Video courtesy of Nathan Jacques.

In their heyday, shopping malls were bustling hubs of commerce hosting thousands of eager businesses from fast food restaurants to high-end department stores, all under a massively collective roof.

In the age of Amazon, brick and mortar establishments (sans Walmart) dropping like retail flies isn’t uncommon. Empty storefront properties where mom-and-pop shops once existed are a common sight yet are eagerly acquired by commercial real estate developers. However, the shopping mall is quite a different beast entirely. Most stand nearly empty since removing them is not a cost-effective task.

These immense and expensive monoliths of capitalism seem to serve a double purpose in the year 2021; to endlessly interchange between investors and to act as fountains of inspiration for people like me, filled to the brim with nostalgic atmospheres and aesthetic perfection.

Enter Vaporwave, a relatively new genre of music and visual art that focuses on the capitalistic endeavors of advertisers in the 80’s and 90’s. Shopping malls built within that era possess and irreplaceable charm that has become almost synonymous with the genre. Vaporwave has a unique power to invoke feelings of nostalgia even in those who weren’t around to experience the implied splendor of the time, myself included.

The malls of Hampton Roads, Virginia are no exception. Inspired by my newfound love for genre, I took to the many dying malls of Southside Hampton Roads, aiming to capture that aesthetic brilliance before these former social hotspots are closed permanently. Paired with a personal essay, the following video showcases local malls as they are at the beginning of 2021.

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