When we think of bigger-than-life ads most of are quick to point out Times Square as the mecca of all things wrong with our consumer culture. But the tourist trap is just one piece Manhattan’s puzzle, which, if you really take a second to look around, is dripping with advertisements hawking everything from coconut water to acne treatments to Louis Vuitton handbags. While most would say that they don’t even notice the ads—a lot like how the Empire State Building eventually is just there after you’ve been living in the city for so long—Israeli photographer Natan Dvir argues that the reality is that these oversized billboards profoundly shape our urban landscape and the way we experience it. His series “Coming Soon” captures the phenomenon.
Inspiration for Dvir’s project when he arrived in NYC for the first time in 2008 and was simply baffled by the sheer size of the ads plastered all over the city. In photography school at the time at SVA, he took to shooting the massive billboards, and the rest of us commoners scurrying past them like little ants.
“These ads are creating some kind of virtual dream world, a virtual reality, and when you compare it to what happens in reality—there’s a huge difference, sometimes a mind-boggling difference,” Dvir told the Times in 2013. “That kind of lifestyle, that kind of mind-set, is not attainable. But this is how we frame our culture. And our culture says these are the right dreams to have. And I wonder… are they?”
The photographer presented the first set of his series in 2013 at the LES’ Anastasio Photo, but over the last two years he’s added dozens of new photographs to the bunch. In addition to those above and in our gallery, you can find even more at his site here.
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All images © Natan Dvir
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