These are photos from Brisbane, Australia. The first one is down a laneway in the city and its the sign on a beautiful art deco building that was the old Newspaper House-where they printed newspapers. You have to go down the Edison Lane to see it. Its near the GPO.
The next one is an old TAB sign. A TAB is where you go to place bets on horses-whatever. These days this building is a car park-but the old doorway and two signs remain. Its in Ely Lane in Brisbane City.
The next three are in a laneway in a suburb called Fortitude Valley. The Valley is seen as Brisbane’s red light district, is the home of Chinatown. This laneway is called Little Street and often local bands make music videos there. Its is always full of smashed bottles etc.
The next one is in the city and is an old ad for Citroen cars-obviously was a car yard of some sort. I love this sign-my favourite-the texture and the fact that it is shown backwards makes it quirky.
The next one is Ann Street, The Valley-a very busy street. The land in front is for sale as you can see-I am scared this sign might disappear soon.
Next is an old photo shop in Dutton Park. This building lies like it is, but slowly the city is moving out and there is a lot of development going on around here-it will go no doubt too.
The next sign is on the side of the building on public radio station 4ZZZ FM. This radio station was the first public radio station in Australia. This building was once the Communist Headquarters and before that it was as you can see a Spare Parts shop.
The next one is down a laneway in the Valley you would not even know it was there and is an old Milk Factory-they are offices now.
Next one is Bridge Street The Valley. This is an interesting street-I always manage to get a park here-this building still houses business-not just the repair shops it once did.
Next-Brunswick Street, The Valley. This old shell is on a main street and I am not sure what is going to happen to it-I can’t even make out what the sign says-but its old!
The next one is an old wool shed in Tennerife. Many of these in this part of the city have been converted into apartments-seen as very trendy.
The next one is quite a famous Brisbane landmark-its the old Goodyear Rubber Factory Building in Wooloongabba. See the light behind it-that is one from the famous “Gabba,” cricket ground. Australian Rules Football is played there too.
Next is an old general store-around the corner from where I live in a suburb called Greenslopes. This shop has been converted and people live in it.
See the old “cars and truck repairs sign” that sticks up behind an Audi car sales business-I love this one, for its positions-it really shows the juxtaposition between old and new. This sign is in The Valley too.
The next two are from Tenneriffe again-converted buildings. One was the old Australian and New Zealand Finance Company-I think. The Council have gone over a couple of the sign down here-which is a shame.
Last is an old Mr Juicy Orange Juice ad. What do you think about all the modern ads around it?
If you ever visit Brisbane-check them out-if they are still here. Brisbane has a long long history of just knocking stuff down! – Belinda Hogan
Belinda Hogan is from Brisbane, OZ (Australia) and has recently completed her Masters in Photojournalism. Back in September of 2008, Hogan contacted me through my Parking Lot page about doing an interview for a presentation she was making toward her thesis. Here is a transcript of our correspondence:
Submitted on 2008/09/11 at 9:52am:
I am a Masters of Journalism student from Brisbane, Australia and I am in the middle of a Photojournalism unit. For my major work I decided to take photos on fading ads here-and then came across your amazing site! Unfortunately Brisbane and its governments have never been interested in retaining history and there are not too many left. I am about to give a talk on your Fading Ad Assignment and was wondering what fading ad is your favourite and why? Also when you take a photo do you think much about the composition or are you just interested in taking it as documentary? Finally, what values do you want to portray (ie what type of reading would you like viewers to have of your work)?
Submitted on 2008/09/11 at 11:19pm:
Belinda- So glad you are doing the work down under to document fading ads. These images have long been a metaphor for survival for me and over the last ten years, the focus has remained constant. Here is a first attempt at answering your questions:
What fading ad is your favourite and why? That’s a tough one. It’s like having many children – they are all so special. The ones that have been most recognised are the first two in the Fading Ad Campaign series – Omega Oil and Reckitt’s Blue. Omega was my first sign I shot. When the Guardian included it in a spread they did back in 1999, it inspired the UK based American watercolourist Sandra Walker RI to come to Harlem to find it and photograph it herself to paint. That was very special. We remain in touch. Reckitt’s Blue was used by the NY Times on the front page of the Metro Section the week they “went colour” and that altered the direction of my life – giving me local recognition and a shot in the arm. But I think my favorite is M. Rappoport’s Music Store. I found it while my partner’s niece was visiting from Italy and I took her around to show her “how I find these signs.” It was almost staged. I said – over there is a construction site…” And voila! Such a beautiful gem. And it caused some controversy since I was exhibiting at the N-Y Historical Society and an apparently jealous peer accused me of stealing the image from an archive and calling it mine. Too bad for her that I have boxes of Ektachromes that document my discovery. Young & Schmuck is also a favorite. I love the birds.
When you take a photo do you think much about the composition or are you just interested in taking it as documentary? I like to give a context of when the picture was taken in contrast to the actual image. Composition is definitely a consideration. Rappoport is an example of including the environment of the ad. The animal needs to be seen in its natural habitat.
What values do you want to portray (ie what type of reading would you like viewers to have of your work)? Well obviously I want people to remember that the AIDS crisis is not over until there is a cure. Secondly, I am critical of commercialism but find myself caught up in it constantly. We are often documenting a product that is no longer produced but this is still a body of work that celebrates commercialism in some way. I worry that Americans are consumers first and producers second. As a teacher I try to foster the creative spirit of producing something you feel is valuable. So many children are very “brand conscious” and I try to instill a sense of self that is not “brand-driven.” You are not your Nikes. I am not my Vespa. But this is difficult since consumerism is such a large part of our social and popular culture. I hope I am understanding your question and answering it effectively.
Thank-you for your responses and I what you say is so true-to what I see to be America and how I see Australia (a mini US)-commericialism envelopes us. I am looking forward to talking on Monday about your work in front of my university peers and I am sure they will be looking up your site also!
I too am a teacher and like you spend my lessons trying to instill these same values into my students as you seem to be also. Teachers seem to be doing so much more than just teaching curriculum these days! But its so important! It has been interesting how much this school term I have been teaching my students about the U.S. For example, today I showed Al Gore’s film and my students wanted to know why he never became President (when I explained the whole Florida situation-they could not believe it-I only hope it does not happen this time around…. so do they!!!)… and I had an English class where we discussed why Atticus Finch was such a hero.
Brisbane is what I call Australia’s Miami! Commercialism central! I recently took a photo of an old “Citroen,” faded ad-that this week is no more. I think I got the last shot of it-another bites the dust because in Queensland they love to tear it down and build what they call modernism!
Would you like my shots for your blog? I am happy to add them-if that is what you do with submissions?
Cheers Frank and thanks!
So excited about your presentation on Monday. Perhaps you can go to the Fading Ad Wiki and read up about Nostalgia. Let me know what you think. You can also encourage others to contribute to the wiki as well. I would love to feature your images on the blog. Perhaps you might want to join the wiki and create a page too.
All the best and looking forward to hearing the feedback about your presentation.
Just to let you know-I got a high distinction talking about you and your work! I am getting together shots of Brisbane for you to send through for your blog. I have found some great ones-but as I mentioned there are not many left.
Belinda- So glad the presentation went well. Looking forward to receiving your images of Brisbane. Would love a transcript of your talk.
Frank H Jump is a New York based photographer, teacher and activist who started documenting vintage mural ads in 1997. But this came about quite by accident.
In 1986, at the age of 26, he was diagnosed as HIV positive and told that he probably would not make 30. This curtailed Jump into what he calls an immediate “midlife crisis,” and decided to approach life with speed. He says,
“ I raced so quickly, others around me seemed to grow old and die before my eyes. My urgency to leave my mark as an artist became intensified.” After 10 years trying to find his feet as an artist, he decide to return to university in 1995 to finish his Bachelor of Arts in Music, Theatre and Film.
It was during a unit in photography and a chance encounter with an old building in Harlem that bore the remnants of a vintage Omega Oil fading ad, where the concept was born. This photograph altered what Jump describes as “…my life’s trajectory.”
Jump realized that this photo was a metaphor for his own life. That this aging sign, like his life, long outlived its expectancy. It was then a new urgency to capture the marks left by other artists; to document not only an art history but also one of the discourse of commercialization that spurred him on to make this his life’s work. The want to produce music and other forms of art waned. Since then, Jump has taken hundreds of photos of Fading Ads not just in New York and but also overseas. He has created an on line community through his Fading Ad Blog, he exhibits his work in his own gallery, collaborates with urban archaeologists and has featured in many newspapers such as The New York Times and The London Observer.
I have interviewed Jump regarding his work and he says that this first shot of The Omega Oil Fading Ad is probably his favourite for the reasons mentioned above. The U.K’s Guardian included it in a spread in 1999 and it inspired U.S watercolourist Sandra Walker RI to even paint it.
Jump’s work is not just about taking a few photos of fading ads but also to document and critique social-economic trends in regards to commercialism. In my recent interview with the photographer, he said;
(From SLIDE FOUR-Press)
“I am critical of commercialism but find myself caught up in it constantly. We are often documenting a product that is no longer produced but this is still a body of work that celebrates commercialism in some way. I worry that Americans are consumers first and producers second. As a teacher I try to foster the creative spirit of producing something you feel is valuable. So many children are very “brand conscious” and I try to instill a sense of self that is not “brand-driven.” You are not your Nikes. I am not my Vespa. But this is difficult since consumerism is such a large part of our social and popular culture. “
Together with this view he invites us also to value our sociological past.
Let’s look at this photo that Jump took in 1997 in Brooklyn.
Today this building no longer exists neither does the company. In relation to the studium and punctum of this shot, Jump is documenting the constant rise and fall of countless businesses, forcing us to question capitalistism as an ideological ideal. He is critiquing past advertising trends and styles thus making us consider economic and social discourses. He is really providing us…… an urban visual archaeology.
The spectrum of this particular shot is of a sign advertising of Reckitt’s Blue Laundry Whitener circa 1890. Jump has taken the photo on an angle with the derelict building in the foreground. As spectators our eyes are drawn not only to the fading ad itself but also to either side of the subject. On our right hand side, the rustic dilapidated buildings have their roller doors shut, reminding us of a by-gone era. The abandoned building or perhaps old church in the left background, further emphasises this. The desolate coloured ground and the long dead grasses in the immediate foreground remind spectators of a ghost- town. The slogan “Purest and Best,” is ironic considering this building is no longer at its “best” in the eyes of developers, governments and perhaps the general public Yet, when thinking about the studium and punctum of this photo, Jump forces us to see exquisiteness in it. He forces us to consider how we view beauty in society and what we consider viable and valuable. He forces us to think about what we should preserve instead of what we should destroy.
I chose this shot to be a part of this presentation as it is my favourite from Jump’s Fading Ad Campaign. The photo taken in 1997 is of the Mount Morris Baths in Harlem. Again, this building has since seen death and was closed in 2003. The studium I will let Jump explain to you.
“This establishment has been around since the twenties. It had been frequented chiefly by African-American men. When gay bath houses were systematically closed during the eighties by the NYC Dept of Health – in their hasty response to the AIDS crisis, this one was overlooked. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.”
When I recently interviewed Jump he told me;
“Well obviously I want people to remember that the AIDS crisis is not over until there is a cure.”
AND…..When I consider the punctum of this shot, I can only speculate that Jump took it to reinforce this viewpoint and the prejudices that remain about HIV/AIDS. The building is a metaphor and parallel in regards to this perspective. It also goes back to how he sees these buildings as metaphors for his own life.
The operator has chosen to shoot this photo at high angle. As spectators this positions us to look down on the building, which in turn makes us think about the bureaucracy that also “looked down,” not only on the building but the people that used this facility. The spotlessly painted aqua reminds me of The Mediterranean, of freedom and of the exotic. This is a juxtaposition of the faded sign, which brings me back to the studium, and punctum of this frame. I am snapped straight back to reality and made to think of discrimination, desolation and dissatisfaction. I think it is interesting that Jump has centered the light in the middle of the frame. The light, if I speculate, would no longer work creating a literal and non-literal darkness. Yet because the shot was taken on what is a sunny day, the light that is shining on parts of the building perhaps represents some hope.
This shot is of a fading ad in Queens advertising an old music store “Rappoprt’s.”
Jump told me,
“I found it while my partner’s niece was visiting from Italy and I took her around to show her “how I find these signs.” It was almost staged. I said – over there is a construction site…” And voila! Such a beautiful gem.”
This goes back to Jump’s interest, documentation and deconstruction of socio-economic trends. We know that vinyl records are from an era past, yet this ad still exist and reminds us of our cultural history. It makes us think of advertising trends-makes us think about the sorts of ads for music that we see today. It also hones in on capitalism and technology-how one thing (like vinyl) one day can be profitable and a new technological standard and the next obsolete. The train in the right hand corner positions the audience to recognize that life and technology is forever moving forward. In contrast, the barrier board on the bottom right positions us to consider that perhaps progress does not always have its fans!
What I love about this shot is the fact that the graffiti artists have tagged above the actual faded ad-showing a mark of artistic respect. I wondered whether this would happen in Brisbane?
(CONCLUSION SLIDE 7)
In conclusion, Jump says;
“Although this project doesn’t deal directly with HIV/AIDS, it is no accident I’ve chosen to document such a transitory and evanescent subject. Of the hundreds of ads I’ve photographed, many have already been covered up, vandalized, or destroyed. But still many silently cling to the walls of buildings, barely noticed by the rushing passersby.”
He also believes that the “….allure of past experiences in ads runs deeper than nostalgia. It is more of a clutching onto the familiar before we can plunge headlong into a new millennium. They are sill something we can physically touch. They are markers of the passing of time.”
AND…… as a spectator I agree. – Belinda Hogan
January 15, 2009
Happy New Year! Sorry this has taken me a long time to get together-but here are the pics of the Fading Ads I have taken photos of from Brisbane Aust that perhaps you can use for your blog. I am slowly getting my blog up and running and will link to your site also. I am also going to forward the presentation I did about you for my Masters in the Photojournalism Unit I just completed-my tutor loved it so much she is going to use it as an example for students this year. She is a photographer and was very impressed by your work too!
I hope the size is okay they are 500px wide.
So I there will be a few emails to follow this one. I hope I have enough detail for you-I can always add some more if needed.