Turns out that McMansions around the world readily model themselves after a very American vision of the upper middle-class lifestyle (it’s so American that a portrait of John Kerry graces a Shanghai model home). From the Atlantic Cities’ interview with the photographer:
What is it about upper middle-class American suburbs that makes them aspirational or exportable to the places you visited?
This copy+paste behavior is a result of America’s cultural dominance over the past five decades, exported through soap operas, movies, and magazines. I also think that the “lifestyle” fills a cultural gap as many of these countries didn’t have an upper middle class until recently and haven’t established a strong identity for this growing class yet.
Side note: This reminds me a lot of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s Typology photos.
A nice domestic scene with his wife and kids. Erwitt’s son Misha interviewed him about this photo:
Misha: You took a photograph in 1955 of our mother cooking dinner, her back to the camera. She has Ellen, who’s crying, in one arm and she’s reaching into the oven with the other. I’m sitting behind them in a high chair and there’s another kid standing, watching.
What’s the back story to that photo? Also, you were traveling all over the world, on the road constantly. What was it like to come home from an exotic locale to a house full of screaming kids?
Elliott: There is no story behind that photo, just a moment of the normal chaos of a family with numerous children. I loved coming back home to screaming children.
I don’t know about you, but it boggles my mind to see that women actually (as opposed to being in ads) wore heels and dresses just to cook and carry around screaming toddlers back in the day.