three bed,

two bath,

two and a half car garage

A child’s tricycle. Blue. The handlebars are white, a bit rusty, with red rubber grips. It has been left outside a suburban home with a car in the driveway. This could be anywhere in middle America, really. Pretty ordinary.

The scene is set for William Eggleston’s photograph, Memphis (c1969), which depicts exactly this. Eggleston photographed a child’s tricycle from ground level so that it stands tall and staunch,
filling most of the image. The suburban home and car are small in the background of the image, outlined by the metal frame of the tricycle. Youth and past, forgotten much like the trike. Or perhaps, the tricycle represents the future for this new family.

It was created in a time when color photography was not the norm.
Publishers lacked resources to print color photos in newspapers and magazines. And the art world unassociated with color images as they represented a departure from ‘real’ art photography which was black and white. Colors in color photos were oversaturated; wrong.

This is no ordinary image. Memphis represents a socio-political context of a post-Vietnam America where man is headed for the moon and Jimmy Carter holds the presidency. This America, too, is at once at odds with itself—past and future. This juxtaposition of traditional values and the forward thrust of modern technology created for a social climate in which banal is not just welcomed, but banal is Americana as apple pie.

In art, things which are, aren’t always as they are perceived.

A thing is just a thing. Anything really. But a creative work about a thing, in this case an ordinary tricycle, means that the work is no longer about just the tricycle: it is now about the image. The work is about what is in the image, the factors which had to exist to arrive at that particular frame, as well as what the image and these factors represent conceptually.

In this way, three bed, two bath, two and a half car garage seeks to critique excess.

Pictured is a carousel of super saccharine colored backgrounds featuring even brighter clothes. More and more. And more. At once, all too much.

Only on closer inspection do we realize that these aren’t clothes for people, they are clothes for dolls.

Clothes are just clothes. Barbie is just a doll.

But images of doll’s clothes are more than just that.

The clothing and fashion industry is responsible for corporate level environmental and human rights violations. Fashion is one of the greatest global polluters, such as clothing dyeing practices, waste from ‘offcuts’ in manufacturing, and the discarding of used clothing from developed countries offloaded to previously colonized nations. Stories of atrocious working conditions for factory workers are also common knowledge; with a focus on factories in Bangladesh falling victim to corporate greed.

Barbie too represents corporate culture. The forever-bachelorette aspires to do it all, always changing and reinventing herself to reflect the times: always promoting the corporate manifesto to young people to purchase more dolls and accessories. The selling of yet another doll to yet another young person who may very likely have at least a dozen similar dolls at home. The selling of also the doll house, the doll car, the pony, cat, dog… and whatever else is the proverbial flavor of the marketing month.

Fashion. Images.

What’s it all for?

Using Format