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Odd is my middle name. What I photograph reflects my own nature, which keeps me isolated and thinking odd thoughts and writing odd books. The first odd sign I shot was in 1971 near Capetown, South Africa. I was nineteen and a student traveling the world on two dollars, protected by the radiance of sheer ignorance. That first sign wasn’t funny as so many signs have been since. It was posted on a public restroom in a park, a prominent and tidy rectangle reading “Damas Blankas”.

White Women, I read. White women, I thought. White Women? Oh my god. They even have separate sewers here? is my stupefied response to this sign. I was disturbed. I was disbelieving. I was angry, and then I had to pee. But could I go in? I looked at my skin, tanned and freckled from three months at sea. I looked at the building painted a blinding white and couldn’t decide if I qualified. That’s when I pulled out my camera and snapped a photo of this odd sign, and I’ve been doing it ever since, every time I run into one that stops me in my tracks. It is an odd addiction, I know, but no matter where I go, I am always able to find a sign to feed my beast. And, I have learned that each location infuses its messages with a regional flavor, making its signs uniquely odd. In the end, odd signs are honest. They provide evidence of our historic and ongoing struggle with communicating well. They provide glimpses of ingenuity in a multi-lingual world, and this alone makes these revealing messages precious.

©2012 All Rights Reserved.  Gae Rusk