Aron Gent’s photographic-based installation Not Quite As Good Because of You uses photographs and a large-scale installation to reveal consumer habits as seen through the eyes of an ex-grocery store bagger now putting his own wares on public display.
Drawing inspiration from his youth as a grocery store bagger in the Milwaukee suburbs, as well as his side-gig as a commercial photography assistant, Gent addresses the simultaneously intimate and revealing practice of consumption. The title, Not Quite As Good Because of You, comes from a simultaneously inspiring and intimidating message from the president of in the Publix Employee Handbook. The exhibition features photographs of consumer products that appear unfinished or slightly off, and outtakes from commercial shoots that appear in-progress. In combination with the photographs, Gent constructs a large-scale installation of all the contents in his bedroom, even his bed, using custom-made paper and plastic bags. The installation flips the grocery-bagger-as-voyeur paradigm on its head by allowing the viewer to scan the items of Gent’s life in neat everyday packages.
Gent states, “While being a bagger you see peoples consumption habits, you observe the intimacy and consistency in which people purchase goods.” Gent articulates this intimacy through the carefully selected items found in the photographs. The outtakes from commercial shoots show a far less polished side of consumer advertisement, playing on the consumer’s own expectations of quality.
Aron Gent received his BFA from Columbia College Chicago in 2007 and has exhibited in numerous galleries in Chicago such as Packer Schopf Gallery, Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the Evanston Art Center, as well as internationally at Singer Sweatshop in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He is on faculty at the Hyde Park Art Center, where his work was exhibited in the group show Are We There Yet? curated by Dawoud Bey in 2008. Aron lives and works in Chicago, IL.