Twentysix Wawa Stores examines the Pennsylvania-based convenience store and gas purveyor Wawa. Wawa means wild goose in the indigenous American language of the Ojibwe. The Wawa business started in 1902 as a dairy farm located in Wawa, Pennsylvania, an area first named as such by land owner Edward Worth. The film follows the Lincoln Highway, starting in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and culminating at the farthest north Wawa store in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
The Lincoln Highway was established in 1913 as the automobile became the dominant means of transportation. It is one of the first transcontinental highways that stretched across the United States. Much like Edward Ruscha’s quietly contemplative Twentysix Gasoline Stations, published in 1962, Eric Weeks’ Twentysix Wawa Stores unobtrusively observes the phenomenon of automobile culture in America in the 2020’s. We are now at a crossroad, as General Motors recently announced a new policy to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2035. The use of internal combustion engines in transportation vehicles is ending, and convenience stores based on fossil fuel sales will need to adapt.
The film points to Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations by referencing the same design as his book, as well as the subject of gasoline stations. A companion book to the film Twentysix Wawa Stores is a facsimile of Ruscha’s, which furthers the dialogue between his seminal work and Weeks’. The film was shot during the Covid-19 pandemic, and documents a particular time in the history of the United States, when masks were necessary to enter stores, and oftentimes two trips were required to retrieve the forgotten mask left in the car.
All of Eric Weeks’ films document and contemplate the profound technological and cultural changes currently experienced in the Northeast of the United States. The short film Twentysix Wawa Stores will be exhibited at Street Road Artists from January 22 - May 28, 2022 and the book, published under the Street Road Press imprint, will be released concurrently, marking the 60th anniversary of the first edition of Edward Ruscha’s book.