A selection of books to accompany the exhibition Retail Apocalypse in the octagonal gallery from 15 April 2022 to 15 January 2023.
In 2001, The Harvard Guide to Shopping notoriously asserted that shopping had become the last remaining form of public activity. The 800-page tome was an exploration of how shopping had dramatically refashioned cities at the turn of the century. Observers declared a “retail apocalypse,” following a wave of retail-chain bankruptcies in 2017, Shopping as an urban activity was entering its terminal phase.
Curators Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen initiated Retail Apocalypse at ETH Zurich, producing a compendium of case studies ranging from Félix Vallotton’s depiction of the Bon Marché to Friedrich Kiesler’s display windows to TELFAR’s critical utopias. The research project can be read as a time capsule for the entire glorious, messy, self-aggrandizing history of retail. Relaunched at the CCA, Retail Apocalypse is conceived as a narrative in three phases.