In today’s experience economy, the visual culture of branding is ubiquitous. Consider Instagram’s lifestyle stars, the merge of music and aesthetics, branded takeovers of city subways and streets, and the rise of trend forecasting: these crucial components of contemporary culture trade as much in pictures as in words. This discussion, hosted by Jillian Steinhauer as part of our ongoing series Optics: A New Way of Seeing Contemporary Culture, examines contemporary branding, and moreover its visual output, as a form of social, cultural, political, and economic exchange and production.

This is a free event, but please register in advance. ICP Members have access to the best seats at our public programs in our reserved members’ section.


Jillian Steinhauer is a journalist living in Brooklyn, NY. She won the 2014 Best Art Reporting Award from the US chapter of the International Association of Art Critics for her work at Hyperallergic, where she was formerly the senior editor. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the New Republic, and The Nation, among other publications. She writes mainly about art and politics, but has also been known to go on at length about cats.

Devon Powers is associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Temple University. She is the author of Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism, and co-editor of Blowing Up the Brand: Critical Perspectives on Promotional Culture. Her research explores historical and contemporary consumer culture and the dynamics of cultural intermediation, circulation, and promotion. Her next book, On Trends: Marketing the Future of Culture, will be out next year.

Dena Yago (b. 1988 USA) is an artist based in New York. Her recent exhibitions include The Shortest Shadow at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (2018), The Lusting Breed at Bodega, New York (2017), Ministry of Internal Affairs at Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2016) and Made in L.A. at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016). Her third book of poetry, Esprit Reprise, was published by Pork Salad Press (2015). Yago is a founding member of the trend forecasting group K-HOLE, and received her BA from Columbia University in 2010.

TOP IMAGE: Weegee, [Mannequins hanging from the ceiling in a shop, Hollywood], ca. 1950. © Weegee/International Center of Photography (19006.1993).