With mural fabric prints, light box installation, metal prints and 3D prints, Tomato Republic is based on a series of photographic diptychs made across United States, United Kingdom, China and Singapore in summer of 2016. The title itself satirically echoes the brand “Banana Republic”, because the image was made with an advertisement billboard mockup of that brand. The word Tomato brings viewers’ attention to the photographic qualities of images: color, contrast, shapes and objects represented, while Republic attempts to highlight a flattened world where commercialization, development and changes are the common denominator among nation states. Re-appropriating the aesthetics of malls, display windows and commercial signage, the work explores various forms of photographic presentation and reproduction.
Haoyang Zhao is a second year candidate in the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program at Duke University.