ARTIST'S STATEMENT: In 1976 I lived in New York. As the huge centennial celebration to take place in the city approached, I was afraid it would be a touristic and crudely nationalistic display, and I didn’t want to be around. So for July I went to Paris, whose image in Godard and Truffaut films had intrigued me.
As soon as I got there, I saw that everything looked like a postcard, and I didn’t want to take photos that everyone else had made. I happened to come across the produce shop in the first photo and was amazed at the care that had gone into arranging the fruit and vegetables, and how beautiful it was. I took a few shots, and from then on I became tuned into noticing storefronts, and it developed into a project that I continued through the ‘80s as I travelled for work as a photojournalist.
I saw these displays as a kind of folk art, made by individual store owners and vendors attempting to attract buyers. These are all places I just came across randomly. For one example, I was in Cuernavaca to photograph the Shah of Iran in exile. Walking away from his compound, I came across a man who had arranged fruits in pyramid shapes. Many of the places I shot for this project no longer exist.
— Charlie Steiner