New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 21 May 14 to 20, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Looking Down On Us
Natan Dvir
Coming Soon
Ed Barnas

Photo by Natan Dvir . Source:
Natan Dvir, "Yorkers by a Juicy Couture billboard on 5th Avenue. " 2008.
We have become accustomed to advertising billboards covering the facades of buildings undergoing renovation, particularly in upscale shopping areas. Their designs range from simple graphic trademarks against a solid color (e.g., Dolce & Gabana) to restrained black and white photos to busy color imagery overlaid with text. Whatever the design, the scale is huge and dwarfs the mere humans who pass by these monumental advertisements. When Israeli-born Natan Dvir moved to New York, he was surprised by this massive commercial advertising overshadowing passing pedestrians oblivious to this background.

The graphics are strong in these ads and best appreciated by stepping back across the street. When Dvir did this, he began to notice interesting juxtapositions and implied sight lines between the giants on the walls and the tiny figures below. On the left of one frame a towering Zara model (sad faced but in black, of course) with a hot-dog vendor below her feet; both look directly at a woman in the lower right, who is oblivious to them. A fashionably unshaven young man in a designer suit glances diagonally at a portly fellow in a tee-shirt, the foreground filled with orange traffic barriers. A colorful quartet of young models in Juicy Couture looks down at the mass of very casually dressed tourists below.

Photo by Natan Dvir . Source:
Natan Dvir, "Thor Equities, A woman and two girls next to a Thor Equities billboard on 5th Avenue. " 2012.
Essential to properly interpreting the relatively small “real” people in the scene, these colorful chromogenic images are printed large – nine are 36 x 50, one is 48 x 68. In a tone reminiscent of Eliot Erwitt’s work, the overall feeling of these images is light and playful. The viewer is invited to note the contrasts and puzzle out the implied sightless between subjects.

And yet, the contrast of the good life pictured on the walls with the pedestrian masses below does create a subtext of social criticism. Sometimes it is done visually, as in the image of a street vendor sitting huddled in a parka below a tropical Tommy Bahama ad full of palm trees; other times it is more textual as in the You know you want it” real estate ad.

Aside from the ten images on the walls, there is a portfolio with more of Dvir’s work on the center table. In addition to more images from the “Coming soon” series (some of which bring to mind color field studies), there is selection of photojournalistic images of Jews, Muslims and Christians in Israel, focusing on the human face of the many issues involved.

Natan Dvir
Coming Soon

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