Susana Raab

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Monday Night, America's Drive-In, Oxford, Mississippi, 2007

Too Long at the Fair, McArthur, Ohio, 2004.

Trash overflows a container at a local street festival in Ohio. Almost 1/3 of the waste generated in America is packaging waste.

Tofu-Dog, Playboy Playmate, PETA Protest, Washington, DC 2004.

A Playboy Playmate hands out tofu hot-dogs in response to the American Meat Institute annual picnic taking place in the Rayburn House Office Building courtyard, just through the doors behind her.

Boy Eats foot long Corn Dog, LaBelle, Florida, 2006

"I knew I shouldn't have asked him if he wanted the foot-long corn dog," said this boys father while watching him tackle eating the large dog.

Food-Fighters, Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest, NY, 2005.

"Food-fighters", as the competitors in Nathans Famous annual hot dog eating contest are called, tackle plates of hot dogs while umpires look on.

McDonald's Collectors' Convention, Chicago, Illinois, 2006.

Hot Dog Platter, Coney Island, NY, 2004.

A hand reaches out for a Nathan's Famous hot dog from the platter given to members of the press following the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Praise the Bratwurst, McArthur, Ohio, 2004.

A man lifts his hands up in praise in front of a bratwurst booth during an early morning Gospel show at the Wild Turkey Festival in McArthur, Ohio. Americans' devotion to fast-food borders on the sacred.

Pepsi-Bottle, Portsmouth, Ohio, 2006.

A young boy seemingly worships a gigantic Pepsi bottle at a riverside festival in Appalachian Ohio.

All-American, Kissimmee, Florida, 2005.

Teenagers channel 1950's greasers at a classic car cruise in Olde Towne, a manufactured vintage village in Kissimmee, Florida. Car culture presupposed the growth of fast food restaurants, which filled a need for now on-the-go travellers.

A Chicken in Love, Athens, Ohio.

Teenagers dressed up for halloween sit in a Wendy's in Athens, Ohio.

The Party Boat, Washington, DC, 2007.

A popular culture rendition of French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party," is recreated as "The Party Boat", filled with American pop-culture icons in a Burger King restaurant.

Liam, Washington, DC, 2006.

Liam, 5, enjoys his after-preschool reward: a trip to the Burger King restaurant across the street from his school.

Chastity, Nelsonville, Ohio.

Fast food employee Chastity Gross, takes a drag from a cigarette while on a break from her shift at McDonald's restaurant where she works 40 hours a week, going to high school for 20 hours a week. Chastity is a Senior in a vocational tech program.

America's Favorite Clown, Athens, Ohio, 2004.

The feet of fast food icon Ronald McDonald overwhelm those of a young girl posing with him for a photograph at a children's fundraising event. Ronald McDonald is one of the most recognized icons in the United States, second only to Santa Claus, proving that the millions spent on fast-food advertising every year are not wasted.

Ronald's Summer Vacation, London, Kentucky.

Ronald McDonald performs for young children at a festival in Kentucky. His gloved hands thumb through a scrapbook depicting him at the leaning tower of Pisa and the Matterhorn.

The Chicken's Dilemma, London, KY, 2005.

A chicken appears perplexed, trapped between impersonators for Col. Harlan Sanders and John Wayne, at the World Chicken Festival, a celebration of all things, Col. Harlan Sanders, founder of fast food restaurant chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Coca-Cola Marketing Event, Poolesville, Maryland, 2005.

A boy poses before an idealized American vista for a Coca-Cola marketing promotion for the new low-carbohydrate Coke product, C2. Soft drink companies have been criticized for the high levels of sugar in their products.

Nelsonville, Ohio, 2005.

McDonald's trademark "Golden Arches" looms over these childrens' backyard in rural Ohio.

The Kiss, Nelsonville, Ohio, 2004.

Teenagers kiss at a local McDonald'€™s restaurant. Fast Food outlets are often hangouts for teenagers and senior citizens.

Castle for Sale, Kissimee, Florida.

A police car sits parked outside a foam core castle for sale in Kissimee, Florida.

Closed Due to Tummyache, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 2009

A young girl collects candy on a blanket thrown to the crowd during a parade, while snacking on sodas and chips in Portsmouth, Ohio.

The Ronald they don't want you to know, Athens, Ohio, 2006.

Taco-Bell Drive-Thru, Daytona, Florida, 2006.

"I bet you've never seen this before," said the customer at the Taco-Bell drive-through window as he picked up his order after driving his vehicle, a motorized wheelchair into the drive-thru lane.

Super-Soda, Metropolis, Illinois, 2005.

A man poses in front of a billboard advertising the Superman museum with a large plastic drink mug, bearing the McDonald's logo.

Looking finger-lickin' good, London, Kentucky, 2007.

Three competitors in the annual Col. Saunder's look-alike contest held at the World Chicken Festival, prepare to face-off, with a quick run of the comb through the hair. The World Chicken Festival is a celebration of all things, Col. Harlan Saunders.

Hardee's Star, Metropolis, Illinois, 2005.

A teenager works the street outside Hardee's fast food restaurant, dressed as its trademark star icon. Teenagers are often employees of fast food restaurants as their flexible schedules and low wage needs make them perfect for the work.

Native American, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

A Coca-Cola machine and a carved wooden Indian, a former advertisement for tobacco products, sit in a tourist center in the Wisconsin Dells. Both represent industries facing so-called sin taxes.

Dixie Cup Flag, Mississippi, 2009.

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.


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.