Following the financial crisis of 2008, great swathes of suburban Southern California were hit hard. House prices tumbled and foreclosures were common. Building work of new homes abruptly halted as unemployment rose; workers suddenly no longer required where the main employment is only service and tertiary industries. The kind of industries that requires people to spend.
With the fall or termination of people’s incomes, a slow but terminal decline also became of the stores that served such people. Buildings and malls that once occupied these stores suddenly became empty and forgotten, left for nature to slowly reclaim.
The poorer areas were first, but nowhere was immune to the greatest recession since the Great Depression. Redlands, eloquently known as the “Jewel of the Inland Empire” also fell. As part of the Inland Empire region, Redlands was (and relatively still is) an island of prosperity, it’s population buffered from some of the poorer and impoverished parts of the region. But as the recession grew closer like the cloud from a great fire, it too suffered.
Fake Empire examines the now largely forgotten and abandoned areas of “The Jewel of the Inland Empire”: Redlands; with it’s vacant parking lots and derelict strip malls. Shot to replicate Kodak Portra film, it aims to show the abandonment in the sunny warm light so prevalent there; a nod of nostalgia to how it used to be before the recession.