America: The Gift Shop

Posted on September 19, 2008 Under Design

We were blown away by the beauty and love rippling through New York photographer Phillip Toledano's lovely "Days With My Father". In the days leading up to the U.S. election, Toledano switches from the personal to the political with his new online project "America The Gift Shop".

Asking "What do we have to remind us of the events of the last eight years?", Toledano's "store" offers they typical line-up of familiar mementos and souvenirs, but with a disturbing political twist. From an Abu Ghraib bobble-head doll, to a snow globe depicting Dick Cheney shredding secret documents, to a T-shirt reading "I was rendered to a secret prison and all I got was this lousy T-shirt", the items would all be humorous if it wasn't for the shocking and atrocious realities they represent. Each piece begins as an entertaining notion and then shifts quickly into solid statement. Like when the candy bar "Choc and Awe", once unwrapped, reveals the infamous slogan "Mission Accomplished" engraved on the chocolate inside.

Though souvenirs are normally treasured, kept to celebrate and commemorate happiness, the wares inside "America The Gift Shop" should be taken to heart with equal value. Not to celebrate, but to remember and acknowledge. If "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", then remembering the follies and mistakes of the last eight years could be one of the most important things you'll ever do.