For Seattle-based photographer Joseph Songco, “Storefronts are in many ways a cultural commentary of a society’s dreams….a doorway to a society’s inner workings.” Born in the Philippines, Songco moved with his family to New York City at the age of 10, and his camera work “reflects my identity as an immigrant growing up in the United States.” Storefronts, a series of photographs shot in New York City, examines how advertising (specifically, fashion merchandising) varies between communities, and the unexpected ways in which it exposes economic and cultural divergences. Through Songco’s lens, the alluring is tinged with ambiguity: Silken headscarves wrapped on mannequin heads could be a statement of chic or politics; a satin wedding gown’s bejeweled straps suggest opulence, even as they resemble restraints. “It is easy to dismiss storefronts as being purely commercial tools, but there are definite hints of a society speaking out through these spaces,” he says.
It is hard to imagine a more resonant venue for this show than Woolworth’s: An exhibit about storefronts mounted in a former department store now transformed into a gallery space. A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Storefronts, Woolworth Building, 11th & Broadway, through September 24, 2010; www.josephsongco.com