Times Squared

How times change or maybe just swing around on themselves. I shot this picture while approaching Times Square in New York in the early part of the century (I enjoyed writing that) and having studied semiotics at university I understood the intentions of the advertisers and the tragic irony for an image with a huge amount of political baggage. I‘m talking about the center picture of the man in a tracksuit holding his hand in what appears to be a black power salute, which is a direct reference to the salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympics, which was and still is considered the most overt political statement in the history of modern Olympics. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Olympics_Black_Power_salute)

It was an act of political rebellion against racial oppression, black poverty, the arbitrary lynching and murder of people of colour, and here it is being used as a vehicle to sell a product. The message is ‘be radical, different, engaged, buy our product’ (the negative is not very clear but I think I remember the ad being for Pepe jeans).

It’s important to remember that neither Smith, Carlos nor the Australian athlete Peter Norman (the silver medalist who was also in the original image) own the rights to the image so the iconography is universally available for commercial exploitation.


Canon Eos5, Tri-X, ASA400


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