A motley grid of things set against clashing bands of homely wallpaper: The dense array was far from comfortable. This was Americana, Group Material's site-specific exhibition project for the 1985 Whitney Biennial in which it took over the museum's lobby gallery. Facing the entrance hung Laurie Simmons's Tourism: Las Vegas (1984), a large-format cibachrome print whose appropriated, rephotographed imagery bet on surface and illusion: A trio of plastic figurines strut toward the rear-projected neon glow of Vegas, wagering class aspiration in all its gendered trappings against the highs and lows of American consumer capitalism. A few paces to the left, five loaves of packaged sliced bread posed a strange rejoinder: Wonder, Arnold, Pepperidge Farm, pinned by their cellophane crests to form a graduated queue, brought out marginal differences in color scheme and logo design. (At left, Peter Nagy's depiction of a Pepperidge Farm industrial plant underscored the point.) Pop lurked; Andy Warhol's 1960s soup cans belabored brand to similar effect, registering the outstripping of substance by signs at the most intimate level of bodily nourishment.

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