Street scene with Coca Cola sign and sculptural monument to Father Duffey
Other than the flag, few things are more closely associated with American cultural identity than Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Company has, since its creation, invoked traditional American ideals and promoted its beverage as wholesome, refreshing, and patriotic.
The Coca-Cola sign in Friedlander’s NYC, 1974 may be interpreted as embracing or antagonizing the figure in the photograph, here a statue on the northern side of Times Square representing Father Duffy (1871–1932), a highly decorated World War I chaplain. The sign seems to announce, in barely visible neon tubing and perhaps ironically, that the statue of Duffy is “the real thing” and, perhaps sincerely, that the heroic figure depicted is as much an American icon as the soda. Through this telling juxtaposition, Friedlander highlights that Coca-Cola invokes the ideals of patriotism and wholesomeness, while Father Duffy actually embodies them.
MD, PHOTOdocument exhibition, March 30, 2012-July 22, 2012
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