Susana Raab

CONSUMED: Fast Food in the US

 a hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty. (Isaiah, 29:8)

My work examines America through the prism of fast-food consumption.  In Consumed, I see the act of eating as an act of ideology.

The physical remains of our mass-consumption litter the streets while the cheap foodstuffs pollute our bodies. All the while, the signs of fast food encroach upon us: advertisements and myths promote a brighter scenario allowing us to happily refuel at the drive-through window oblivious to the cycle that we perpetuate. Americans are slaves to an industry whose influence over our society we do not fully comprehend. Worse, we abet this national drama by worshipping the signs and totems of this junk food culture, proving that the billions spent on fast food related advertising are doing their job.

We are disoriented, abetted by the fast pace in which we live our lives, manifesting itself in the frenzy in which we consume.  Yet the slick marketing campaigns featuring smiley faces, plastic baubles, and vibrant colors allow us to believe another reality.  In this world, foam-core castles and trompe l’oeil vistas allow us to avert our gaze from the tangible world we’ve built over the detritus of our consumption.

Using medium-format color film to translate the saturated colors and hyper-reality of this industry’s advertising conventions, my work seeks to obliquely answer the question, “To what extent has the fast-food industry’s marketing and nutritional practices affect Americans?”  Operating under the premise that comedy and tragedy are inexorably intertwined much of my work focuses on humor and absurdity to illuminate the more subtle pathos below the surface.  I work to produce photographs that invite a second look and which withold judgement but serve only to provoke consideration.

During travels around the U.S., I survey the landscape for signs and relics of the junk and fast-food industry.  I am motivated by a foreboding sense of the absurdity of our situation.  The convenience of modern living, and our easy access to ready “foodstuffs,” is destroying our bodies and marring our landscape.

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SUSANA RAAB was born in Lima, Peru and raised throughout the United States. She is a fine-art and documentary photographer working in Washington, DC, and recently began working for the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, documenting the East of the River communities in Washington, DC.  Susana’s work has been exhibited internationally and nationally, at venues including the Corcoran Museum of Art, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in Madrid, the Pingyao, Lodz, Poland, and Noorderlicht Fotofestivals, and the Art Museum of the Americas.

Susana has been the recipient of the White House News Photographers’ Project Grant, a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowship, several Honorable Mentions in Center’s Project Competition and Curator’s Choice Awards, and a Puffin Grant, among other honors. Her work is held in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History, The Library of Congress, and the DC Public Art Bank.

She received her MA in Visual Communications at Ohio University and holds a BA in English Literature from James Madison University.

To view more of Susana’s work visit her website.