Shopkeeping Souls is essentially intended as a harsh disciplinary model against non-selves, people who are perpetually stuck in "the mode of not being".
The chiaroscuro lighting, while accentuating the bodily and facial contours of the subject, creates an intense and dramatic tone and alludes to the fatalism of film noir. Furthermore, it presides over the subject, allowing the notion of meaninglessness to foster her nihilism and stoicism. The dark-to-light gradient in her dress, from the bottom upwards, renders her haunting and ghostly.
The fragmentary mask, constructed from aluminium foil, minuscule fragments of rubbish and polymer clay roses, symbolises consumerism, which in turn represents "essence" in the popular Existentialist phrase, Existence Precedes Essence. Essence is synonymous of social expectations and gender, familial, cultural and racial stereotypes. Many people allow essence to predominate their entire existence. The fuchsia and red polymer clay roses represent the aesthetic façade by which consumerist advertisements render themselves inconspicuous when, in all actuality, they are exceedingly harmful to the Will.
The constricting bodice of the 50's style dress on the subject symbolises an era in which gender and familial roles were at the height of their rigidity and inflexibility. Additionally, in light of a kind of feminist Existentialism, the floral 50's dress represents the dreariness and mundaneness of domestic tasks.