Every Woman On a Coca-Cola Bottle
#photography & visual arts
small, Every Woman On a Coca-Cola Bottle, Neon Museum, Warsaw. cre: Ilona Karwinska, neon_muzeum_panorama.jpg
It was a remarkable novelty when an owner of a famous American chain of coffee houses did not make do with writing his clients’ names on paper cups, but started to call them by name when coffee was ready.
polish cold war neon
I tried to understand this gesture, which was completely new in that times, by means of the words of famous sociologist Simmel – master of introducing symbols of a fragmented world. According to Simmel, what is unique also includes something typical, and essence is disappearing. What do consumers experience when they receive paper coffee cups with their names hand-written by employees who puts some of their privacy into it?
What does this indicator mean? Is it a fragment? Has this global brand made an effort to heal our modern, nervous personalities with a symbol of coffee produced with a dose of sensibility? Is this coffee house not a point for global tenderness which is trying to help us with this overwhelming feeling caused by external images of the contemporary life to which we become more and more indifferent? Or did this notion become a peculiar strategy to intensify consumption in the post-industrial times and make it less obvious at the same time? At that time, I was not able to answer this question, and this is what I wrote: “Neither this nor that. Both…”. I asked myself the same questions when Coca-Cola bottles with individual names written on them appeared in Turkish houses…
These named subjects on the bottles are ahead of the brand… These are anonymous figures who ceased to be everywomen who like neither to wear slippers at home, not to go out and shop, and they withhold themselves from being an object embodied by the brand. At the beginning, our names constituted to the upmost our personal calligraphies, but with time they became impersonal logos… Everything for the sake of illusion that when we consume something it belongs only to us – so that we could live in an illusion that what we consume has been produced exclusively for us and, hence, so that we consume more and more. I am in Warsaw at the Neon Museum. Advertising panels are chaotically stacked and made of neon signs produced in the Soviet times. They are glowing. In the Soviet times, when advertising was forbidden, advertised items took form of neon signs and carried the most impersonal and objective names.
This ‘Essence’ Disappeared Long Time Ago
A neon sign ‘Grocery’… A neon sign ‘Souvenir Shop’… Advertisements without brands. In my opinion, the transition from extremely personal hand-writing to the Coca-Cola bottles with names constitutes a return to this impersonal approach. The subject is again withholding from having subject position This time, however this is not done by Communists, but by post-Capitalist who can give up brands to the benefit of the consumer… Therefore, it can be said that this essence disappeared long time ago and sank into oblivion. What makes something unique distinguishable from something typical are our names – maybe especially when we sink into oblivion ourselves. Therefore, not for nothing we constantly take a Selife because the only thing we can do is to tug our image!
Article by Ayşegül Sönmez.
Translated from Turkish by Agnieszka Ayşen Kaim and Katarzyna Wiśniewska. Edited by E.M. 16/05/2014