Purity Supreme, 1973

photography by SUSAN BURBIDGE

October 15 - November 6,
November 26 - December 30, 2010


We go to the supermarket because we've used up or run out of whatever we got the last time we were there. If shopping is repetition compelled by consumption, shopping for produce is an exercise in pure ephemerality; carry away enough broccoli or pineapple to last a month and most of it will spoil within a week. So we amble the aisles, replacing the impermanent.

Yet curiously, impermanence has no place in these photographs. The shoppers are garbed in formality and their most mundane gestures have been transformed by a sort of classical restraint into a ceremony of selection and rejection. Wrapped in dark coats and wearing polished shoes, these ladies (and the occasional gentleman) appear to be participants in a somber ritual, thoughtfully calculating quantities or deliberating upon the matter of ripeness. This is the magic of the camera lens, summoning from the least memorable moments of our daily lives the rhythm and the refinement of eternity.

---Bobbi Hamill, MarkMaker Press (

Susan Burbidge has been considering the world through various viewfinders since she was a teenager. This exhibition consists of photographs taken (with the permission of the manager) at the Purity Supreme store in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts in 1973. The images were made using a Nikkormat FT camera and TriX 400 film.



 Index by

 Index by