The following post is of a picture and an article found at an art exhibit at the Cultural Center of Chicago, an exhibit I visited in January, showcasing art made by women protesting, commenting on or who have been victims of abuse of all sorts. The picture below is commented on by the artist in the paragraph below.
“For the Unbranded series, Thomas used magazine advertisement directly targeting a black audience, and published since 1974. He digitally manipulated and appropriated the images, removing any signature of the client – text, logos, slogans. He left the images otherwise unaltered, and in doing so he revealed what is actually being “sold”. In this piece, we see a powerful black man flanked by two white women. He is seated like a king, his expression tough, a cigar jutting upward from his open mouth. A fruit basket sits as his feeet. The women each drape a hand over his knee. What is not be being said? Somtimes the unspoken is deafening.
Advertising, at a core level is a reflection of the way a culture views itself and aspirations. But it is more than a reflection. It’s been called the most influential institution of socialization in modern society. It generates its own societal values, tells us what is good, and overwhelmingly uses sex to arouse and stimulate its viewers. Images that were considered pornographic only a few decades ago are now printed and broadcast. Women are portrayed as flawless, airbushed, and perfect, creating an ideal that can never be attained. They are sex objects, fragmented and often without character. They become a commodity, objects of exploitation. These images fuel insecurities in men and women alike.”