Here's today's online exercise in classic American ennui

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on January 22, 2014

From The News Desk

The world of web art is vast, and various online catalogues of found objects are an endlessly entertaining artistic niche. Some of the most moving in this vein can be found on craigslist, where users post pictures that weren't intentionally "artistic," but were determined after the fact to illicit an inadvertently profound response.

But thankfully we don't have to sift through the missed connections and ads for used refrigerators to find these gems. Dutiful Tumblr-ers have mined and archived the best samples of this craigslist ridiculousness. Look to Best of Craigslist for the most humorous posts. There's also The Worst Room, which shows the sad state of cheap room rentals in New York. And let's not forget that classic in craigslist found art, the Missed Connection-cum-Poetic Masterpiece of someone's romantic Q train encounter.

Now there's another unlikely craigslist masterpiece, which finds quiet beauty in pictures of mirrors from ads: Craigslist Mirrors.

The site is curated by artist Eric Oglander, who hunts Craigslist for sale posts that contain the best and bleakest pictures of mirrors on the market. A simple concept to say the least, but also one that showcases some beautifully unintentional sadness.

Oglander's other work displays the same subtlety. Many of his photos look at the uglier parts of suburban life -- outdoor tire heaps, delapidated trucks, street cones. And like Oglander's previous work, Craiglist Mirror's explanation is simple and telling: "I search craigslist for photos of mirrors for sale and post them here."

The images are poorly lit looks into the bleakness of suburban domesticity. It's difficult to pinpoint why, exactly, this kind of content is so addictive, but it really is. Just the image of a singular ubiquitous object placed in random home-spaces has its own kind of appeal. Add that with the fact that all the mirrors are reflecting something, and frequently something funny or sad or both. One even gets the occasional unintended selfie.

All the images have the same somber tenor. The underlying message of the collection is that, by selling used mirrors, these hard-luck craigslist-ers are actually bartering versions of themselves. And yet, judging by the bleak sameness of the pictures' compositions, the identities behind these selves are also unnervingly the same. Craigslist Mirrors is basically a catalog of people trading artifacts that all reflect the same identity, which is a pretty good metaphor for the Internet itself, when you think about it.

Take, for instance, the very first post. Submitted on October 18th of last year, it shows two mirrors -- one rectangular, one oddly cut -- each covered in blue tape reflecting an empty room.


Another one shows a mirror atop a cheap, plain armoire, with a man reflected in the background looking in another direction. He doesn't even seem to be the person taking the picture; he's just there, in an empty room, helping sell the lonely mirror.


I could go on, but you get the idea. Some pictures are taken outside, some inside, but they all contain the same mood. If you're looking for a simple example of modern American bleakness, this would be it.

And really, what is more demonstrative of unspoken emotion than a mirror standing on its lonesome?