young girl with Hershey's chocolate box
In Out at Three in the Morning, a girl holds a box above her as if it were a blanket or a shell. The label reveals that the box originally held twenty-four boxes of Hershey’s “NEW STYLE” plain milk chocolate bars. Twenty years after Weegee took this photograph, the Pop artist Andy Warhol produced silkscreened plywood boxes mimicking Brillo soap pad containers. Art historians have identified connections between Weegee’s photographs of accidents and urban crime with Warhol’s Disasters Series, making a comparison of the artists’ treatments of boxes an interesting proposal.
While the caption accompanying this photograph in Weegee’s book Naked City—“Little girl . . . what are you doing out at three in the morning . . . you should be home asleep”—conveys compassion, Warhol’s Brillo Boxes are sterile, divorced from any context. Both boxes, however, are product packages, rather than products, simultaneously representing a product and existing separately from it. Brillo Box poses the question: What is its purpose when not holding soap pads? Warhol’s clever answer is: It doesn’t need a purpose—it’s art. Weegee’s box provides an alternative answer, suggesting the possibility of reuse. The empty Hershey’s box has a new function, playfully sheltering this girl at three in the morning.
MD, PHOTOdocument exhibition, March 30, 2012-July 22, 2012
girls; sitting; boxes; portraits; night; darkrooms
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