cccUnbranded is a series of images that I appropriated and digitally manipulated from magazine advertisements that are focused towards a black audience of feature black subjects. I have removed all aspects of the advertising information - text, logos, etc. - in a sense to reveal what is being sold. No other part of the image has been altered. I believe that, in part, advertising's success is based on its ability to reinforce generalizations developed around race, gender and ethnicity, which can be entertaining, occasionally true, and sometimes horrifying, but all in all are a reflection of the way culture views itself or its aspirations. By 'unbranding' advertisements I can literally expose what Roland Barthes refers to as 'what-goes-without-saying' in ads, and hopefully encourage viewers to look harder and think deeper about the empire of signs that have become second nature to our experience of life in the modern world.

HANK WILLIS THOMAS received a BFA in Photography and Arfricana Studies from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He also received an MFA in Photography and an MA in Visual Criticism from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. His photographs have been featured in numerous books and publications, including: Reflections in Black: A History of African American Photographers (W.W. Norton, 2000), 25 Under 25: American Photographers (PowerHouse Books, 2003) and Black: A Celebration of a Culture (Hylas Publishing, 2004). His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States. Most recently, he has been selected to participate in 'Metro Pictures' at the Museum of Contemporary Art (North Miami), 'Frequency' at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art. Recently, he co-curated 'Engulfed by Katrina: Photographs Before and After the Storm' at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Thomas is a 2006 recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Award and has been commissioned to collaborate on an installation for the Oakland International Airport.

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"Unbranded", by Hank Willis Thomas
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