"I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream,” a song first published in 1927, by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert King, stems from a commercial slogan for the I-Scream bar now known as the Eskimo Pie. This iconic ditty instantly evokes the sweet feeling of summer - sitting poolside enjoying a popsicle, chasing down the musical call of an ice cream truck, or finding yourself a snow cone at a street fair on a steamy August day.
Robert Mann Gallery’s summer exhibition, I Scream, You Scream, looks at both the visual and social culture of ice cream by juxtaposing contemporary color images of ice cream itself with historical images of people savoring every sweet morsel. The show explores how photographers can capture the playfulness of the human experience indulging in the pleasures of life that will melt in your mind, not your hand.
The light-hearted chant epitomizes the amusing scene captured by Garry Winogrand of a women throwing her head back in laughter as she gracefully holds on to her ice cream cone or a phallic advertisement that will cause even the most mature of us to giggle a little. I Scream, You Scream also brings a sense of nostalgia through works by Martin Parr, where we get transported back in time to see ice cream appear as charming novelty food that may have since found sanctuary in an vintage shop.
Conversely, the show incorporates works by Simone Rosenbauer, where the image of ice cream is decontextualized and made into a universal symbol by removing it from the consumer and placing it against a single color background. PUTPUT goes even further and removes the function of two common objects by placing a sponge in guise of a popsicle, creating a visual semblance that confuses our perception and makes us reconsider the materiality of objects.
From humorous snapshots of human delight to a fallen soldier poetically melting on the scorching pavement, the works on display offer an multifaceted look at the role ice cream plays in society. It can represent America’s tendency to reinvent itself, like the ever growing number of flavors, while still preserving elements of the past, like a traditional ice cream stand seen in Jim Dow’s The Sno House that calls to those looking for comfort from sweltering summers. Such ideas lead to more theoretical conservations on society’s reluctance to change as Olivia Locher’s mischievous character, whose outright defiance breaks an outdated Alabama law by having an ice cream cone drip from her back pocket, provides a satirical approach to holding on to the past. Whichever way you lick it, there is nothing sweeter than enjoying a creamy ice cream on a sunny day.
The show features works by: John Albok, Ralph Bartholomew, Jeff Brouws, Ted Croner, Jim Dow, Martin Elkort, Harold Feinstein, Jill Freedman, André Kertész, Olivia Locher, Marly Meisler, Martin Parr, PUTPUT, Simone Rosenbauer, Peter Sekaer, S.B. Walker, Garry Winogrand, and Neil Winokur