Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hank Willis Thomas' Unbranded

Last month at the New York Photo Festival I had a chance to see some images from Hank Willis Thomas' project Unbranded. Using appropriated and subsequently manipulated advertisements targeted at African American culture, the images from Unbranded address the broad generalizations surrounding race and gender that are unfortunately quite common in advertising. In the statement on his website, Willis Thomas asserts:

"By unbranding advertisements I can literally expose what Roland Barthes refers to as what-goes-without-saying in ads, and hopefully encourage viewers to look harder and think deeper about the empire of signs that have become second nature to our experience of life in the modern world."

From Top To Bottom:

"Smokin Joe Ain't Je'mama", 1978/2006

Who Can Say No to a Gorgeous Brunette?, 1970/2007

"It's the Real Thing", 1978/2006

All Images © Hank Willis Thomas