The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America, by Julian Montague
Published in an updated edition by the University of Chicago, 2023
Abandoned shopping carts are everywhere, and yet we know so little about them. Where do they come from? Why are they there? Their complexity and history baffle even the most careful urban explorer.
Thankfully, artist Julian Montague has created a comprehensive and well-documented taxonomy with The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America. Spanning thirty-three categories from damaged, fragment, and plow crush to plaza drift and bus stop discard, it is a tonic for times defined increasingly by rhetoric and media and less by the plain objects and facts of the real world. Montague’s incomparable documentation of this common feature of the urban landscape helps us see the natural and man-made worlds—and perhaps even ourselves—anew.
First published in 2006 to great perplexity and acclaim alike, Montague’s book now appears in refreshed and expanded form. Told in an exceedingly dry voice, with full-color illustrations and photographs throughout, it is both rigorous and absurd, offering a strangely compelling vision of how we approach, classify, and understand the environments around us. A new afterword sheds light on the origins of the project.