/08 Works

Kirk Crippens

Dealership Wreck

I never noticed any of the monolithic auto dealerships alongside the freeway close for business until I began to notice empty dealerships everywhere I traveled. I researched the phenomenon and discovered that over 2,300 auto dealerships in America were forced to close. Largely a result of US auto industry bankruptcies, government bailouts, and financial restructuring, the closings caused hundreds of families to lose their businesses, thousands of industry workers to lose their jobs, and seventy million square feet of commercial real estate to appear on the market almost overnight.

I explored many of these abandoned structures during visits to auto malls around the United States. I observed some of the buildings being repurposed while others were scheduled for demolition. I witnessed a foundation being poured for a new auto dealership across the street from two shuttered dealerships. A few reopen. At a time when General Motors has emerged from structured bankruptcy and circumstances are looking up for auto manufacturers, this series reflects on the fragile and changing infrastructure of this iconic industry. Dealership Wreck continues my work on The Great Recession that began with my 2009 series, Foreclosure, USA and continued in 2011 with Chopping Block.