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Maryam Jafri, Generic Corner (Canned Beans), 2015, ink-jet print, 16 1/2 × 20 1/2". From the series “Generic Corner,” 2015.

Maryam Jafri

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Maryam Jafri, Generic Corner (Canned Beans), 2015, ink-jet print, 16 1/2 × 20 1/2". From the series “Generic Corner,” 2015.

Precious few artists, even in the wake of modernism’s varying efforts to demystify and deconstruct originality, would wish to see their work labeled “generic.” Maryam Jafri is a notable exception. Of course, it is not Jafri’s project itself that bears this dour tag, but rather the curious subgenre of consumer good that she depicts and reproduces. In a flawlessly realized installation of small photographs and objects (most purchased, some reconstructed using photographs adhered to boxes), Jafri explored the phenomenon of the unbranded product, prompting a rereading of these minimally packaged items in the context of the history of art and graphic design.

As Prem Krishnamurthy clarifies in his accompanying essay, Jafri’s focus is on the kinds of cut-price staples on offer in the 1970s through the early ’80s, initially on dedicated aisles of supermarkets, the basic status of which

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