Levinson took Untitled #34 as part of a two-year project of photographing flea markets throughout California. Flea markets are almost always local affairs and essentially democratic. They perform a “taking-back” of commerce: agency lies with the individual, and the market operates outside of the mainstream of big businesses. This photograph demonstrates the potential role of language in this “taking-back.” By emphasizing the texts on recycled packaging, Levinson summarizes how commercial texts can be endowed with or divested of meaning.
In Untitled #34, the former commercial affiliation of a white van has been blacked out. A cardboard box-turned-dressing-room is printed with codes of mass production, which, for the average viewer and in this context, are meaningless. The makeshift dressing room has been hand-labeled and illustrated with a pair of winking eyes—it has been given new code, so to speak, which assumes the labeling role of the printed codes.
MD, PHOTOdocument exhibition, March 30, 2012-July 22, 2012
figures; boxes; vehicles; women; bags; black and white; photography
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