Branded Trash: (In) Voluntary Product Displacement

  • Enrico Policardo

Featuring a collection of photographs taken between the UK, Portugal, Italy, and Slovenia, Branded Trash explores the concept of product displacement, highlighting the tragically ironic contrast between the intentional/unintentional placement of branded products in everyday life and their ultimate fate as discarded litter. While product placement in media aims to seamlessly integrate products into our perception of reality, blurring the lines between advertising and everyday life, product displacement reveals the unintended consequences of consumerism. When products are correctly placed in their intended context, they seamlessly integrate into the illusion created by advertising, just like the agreement between a spectator and an actor in a performance. This integration reinforces the desired connection between the consumer and the brand, maintaining the coherence of the narrative. However, when a product is displaced and ends up as litter, it disrupts this illusion and agreement. The cognitive dissonance arises as the intended context is shattered, revealing the real-world consequences of consumerism. This rupture can be seen as a rip in the fourth wall moment, where the viewer is abruptly confronted with the consequences of their own role/actions as consumers and the environmental impact of their choices. This disruption challenges the seamless integration of the product into the advertising illusion, exposing the underlying contradictions and prompting reflection on the true costs of consumer culture. The photographs in "Branded Trash" capture the transformation of once-desirable branded products into litter, challenging the illusion created by advertising. Branded Trash raises questions about consumer culture, environmental responsibility, the lasting impact of our choices, and most especially the responsibility of brands. It serves as a thought-provoking commentary on the paradoxical relationship between advertising, consumption, and the consequences of product disposal, encouraging viewers to reflect on the hidden costs behind the glossy images of branded products in everyday life. The constant presence of logos and brands has become an integral part of our everyday existence, subtly influencing our consumer decisions. This phenomenon is not new; it has become so ingrained in our lives that we have come to accept and perceive it as a normal process.The sight of littered packaging, cans, and bags on our streets serves as an inadvertent form of advertising, a form of passive-aggressive publicity, granting companies free promotion without their active involvement. If you think that having your company associated with a pile of trash is bad, think again. There is no such thing as bad publicity. The book is overloaded with images, texts, and information, in which my photography, from a strictly photographic point of view, gets a bit lost. That is intentional and by design; I want to reproduce in a way the complexity of the real world and create an artwork not easy to digest in one go, but to create a document one would want to go back to over and over, a book full of trash but paradoxically a beautiful object to have on your coffee table, by the bed, in the toilet—wherever one does that kind of intermittent reading. Get your free preview here: