Through the Looking Glass: Storefront Cultures of Display and Exhibition

Over the last few years, I’ve been documenting storefront window displays in a variety of cities, mainly in North America. Through this project, I’ve become interested in moments of “accidental display” that are produced through unintentional arrangements and juxtapositions of objects and signs. These elements may or may not be directly connected to a space’s commercial purpose. Often, they materialize within conditions of abandonment or displacement. In either case, visualizing these miniature mise-en-scènes introduces brief temporal departures from the seamless circuits of exchange and display that constitute everyday life in late capitalism. Here, I have used photography and collage to introduce elements of the unpredictable and uncanny into the visual archive of urban spaces, as both an acknowledgement of and a gesture against the branding of these spaces.

Emma Boast is a second-year Master’s student in Public Humanities at Brown University. She studies how the politics of aesthetic and cultural distribution shape postindustrial places, both past and present, and is interested in practices that reconfigure these politics to create more equitable and livable cities.

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