The big pic­ture

Ul­lared, Swe­den, by Lars Tun­björk

The Observer - The New Review - - Agenda -

There are two kinds of shop­pers. The kind who never tire of cruis­ing the aisles, bright-eyed, ever alert for the item that will fi­nally trans­form their wardrobe, and their lives. And the kind who know deep in the well of their soul that there is no such thing as a bar­gain; those for whom even the thought of sur­vey­ing an­other cheer­less rack of shirts that will never look half as good once they get them home fills them with an ex­is­ten­tial tor­por that seeps through ev­ery cell of their body and fills the spark­ing path­ways of their brain with a slurry of Ni­et­zschean de­spair. It is fair to say that the chil­dren in this pic­ture by the Swedish pho­tog­ra­pher Lars Tun­björk in­habit the lat­ter cat­e­gory.

They have come to the wrong place. They have found them­selves in the third cir­cle of shop­ping hell. Ul­lared is a vil­lage on the south-west coast of Swe­den, with 791 in­hab­i­tants. It is also home to Gekås, the largest depart­ment store in Scan­di­navia. Gekås is vis­ited an­nu­ally by nearly 5 mil­lion cus­tomers, drawn by more than 100,000 bar­gains; it has a camp­site and mo­tel at­tached. The long­est queue recorded at the su­per­store mea­sured 1.4 km (close to a mile).

Tun­björk, who shared an in­ter­est in the ex­tremes of the con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ence with Bri­tish pho­tog­ra­pher Martin Parr, took this pic­ture as part of his se­ries “I love Borås!”, a can­did trib­ute to the sub­ur­ban town in which he grew up. It is in­cluded in a post­hu­mous col­lec­tion of the pho­tog­ra­pher’s work pub­lished this month. Ul­lared, syn­ony­mous in Swe­den with the word “bar­gain”, is an hour’s drive from Borås. The av­er­age shop­per at Gekås has trav­elled 150km to get there. Tim Adams

Lars Tun­björk is pub­lished by Max Ström (£50)

Ul­lared by Lars Tun­björk, from his se­ries I Love Borås! (1988-95)

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