The Photographic Resource Center (PRC) in Boston is currently hosting an exhibition entitled AD | AGENCY . The show features artwork that investigates the power behind the objects, signs, and symbols of our daily cycle of consumption. The exhibit features a few interesting commentaries on the subject employing a mix of aestheto-conceptual erasures, appropriations, reproductions, and abstractions. Self-destruction and over-consumption make up the bedrock of American commercialism; in response, the photo-based works of the exhibition question the viewer with dry wit, deconstruction, and open-ended criticism.

Brian Ulrich was represented with a couple images from his “Copia” series, and Dean Kessmann with “Plastic on Paper.” It is interesting to think that the the plastic bags will outlast Kessman’s prints, the products they held, and possibly even the viewer. Matt Siber’s diptych from “The Untitled Project” was an interesting reminder of our ad-laden daily landscape. One panel presents a scene from which all logos and text have been removed; in the adjoining panel, the logos and text are placed on a white background in the approximate area from where they came.

Hank Willis Thomas‘ series, “Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America 1968-2008” removes the text and logos from advertisements that were marketed towards and African American subject or featured Black subjects. The resulting “unbranded” images expose racial generalizations and shows literally what goes without saying- (what an advertising image is selling once removed from its written message)


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