White Tower, 14th Street, NYC may be read as mimicking the visual language of advertising, which Frank would have known from working at the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. If this were an advertisement, we might perceive the women to be representatives of economic means and sophisticated taste, which extends to, or is defined by, their preference for White Tower hamburgers. The women’s smiles and laughter could imply, furthermore, that a White Tower hamburger provides genuine joy as well as sustenance.
A woman on the far right, however, stares directly at the photographer, destroying the advertising-like illusion and flattening the levity of the scene. The bold exclamation “HAMBURGERS” itself undercuts the pretend advertising message: the juxtaposition of lovely women with unexceptional hamburgers makes the women seem frivolous, suggesting Frank’s dismay at the crudeness of a meal thought to epitomize the American way of life.
MD, PHOTOdocument exhibition, March 30, 2012-July 22, 2012
photographs; storefronts; people; food; restaurants
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