Logoville U.S.A.

It’s gotten so we don’t even see them, the carefully placed product endorsements that are part of everyday life. On an episode of American Idol, Simon Cowell raises to his lips a monstrous neon tumbler emblazoned with the Coca-Cola logo, and what we see is a man taking a drink. Our nine-year-old brings home a report card slipped into an oddly colorful folder, and it takes us a moment to realize that the folder is an ad for a cellular telephone service.

It’s this sort of crazed consumerism that is being explored in "Branded and on Display." The collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and assemblages urges us to reconsider consumer culture with an appraising eye and a new awareness.

In photographer Hank Willis Thomas’s Branded Head, a digital C-print mounted to Plexiglas, the Nike logo pops unashamedly from the shiny, bald head of an athlete. In Louis Cameron’s Universal, a giant bar code is projected onto an entire wall in the gallery. These and dozens of other logo-centric works plead with us, with humor and some small amount of disdain, to consider how our culture is defined by marketing, advertising, brand names, and billboards.

Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: June 14. Continues through Sept. 21, 2008
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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela