There's still something charming about the Americana (New Yorkana?) of the Miss Subways contest. Or perhaps there's only something charming in retrospect about the city voting on pretty commuters via posters on trains. Either way, HHS contender Fiona Gardner captures a bit of the bygone magic in her series that revisits these beauty contest winners decades after their small reigns. (From 1941 to 1976 an ad agency sponsored the contest; female commuters who were residents of New York City were eligible to compete for spots on future ads.)
Gardner makes use of the poses of iconography, to subtly and not so subtly, hint at the current lives of these former beauty queens. She says her work is "influenced by traditions of staged photography, early Hollywood spectacle, and contemporary performance-based art practices." She continues, "In particular, I am interested in 19th century photographers Lewis Carroll and Julia Margaret Cameron, contemporary photographers such as Jeff Wall and Justine Kurland, and the filmic spectacles of Busby Berkeley and Esther Williams."