The Everyday Model is a photo/text work centering on the phenomenon of “ordinary-looking” people who model for everyday consumer items. Arranged in clusters of framed images and texts, each cluster brings together different ads featuring the same model, often for competing or complementary products. By tracking the same individual across different ad campaigns, the disparate images compile a surreal visual archive of the self–one overlaid with corporate logos and advertising text. In their anticipation of emerging forms of subjectivity, one that is no longer solely performative but also branded, these images both point back to the era of mass media and forward to the rise of social media. Now everyone is an entrepreneur of their self, everyone has something to confess and someone to target, at least potentially. The images also reveal the other side of the trend of carefully curated images on social media–if real people want to look like ads, ads now want to look like real people. Framed text panels, written by the artist, shed light on the specific product or target group in question, or the artist’s own relationship to the product, underlining how many of the ads feature confessional taglines. If confession first arose in a religious context, and later emerged as a psychoanalytic tool, now confession is a branding tool increasingly deployed online and off.
In the above collage, the same model serves as the mother in both ads (even wearing the same type of sweater) but in fact all three of the models unwittingly play supporting roles in a family drama starring ADHD. The left side features an ad for finding correct-fitting jeans for girls, the right an ad for improving academic performance in ADHD-afflicted boys. ADHD is often overdiagnosed in boys but underdiagnosed in girls. One sign of ADHD in girls is the prevalence of an eating disorder. The male-to-female ratio of ADHD in adults is more even, due to greater self-referrals among women–often older women only recognize their ADHD after a son has been diagnosed first.
Image above: Susan P. (From Mother-Daughter Jeans to ADHD)
The Everyday Model (2021), 16 framed images, 2 unframed images, 9 framed texts