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 writer and editor 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 Guardian, the New Republic, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. She writes mainly about art and politics, but also sometimes about cats. An essay by her was commissioned for the book Cat Is Art Spelled Wrong, published by Coffee House Press in 2015.

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. She is currently working on a book about trends.

More speakers to be announced.

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