Consumption is a complicated word with a myriad of meanings and usages. This
complexity was fully reflected by the diverse range of work submitted for consideration
for this group show.
Interestingly, the majority of the photographs I reviewed addressed consumption in terms
of commodity culture and our society’s particular and alarming acquisitiveness.
Compelling images of McMansions and Best Buy storefronts (by Ryan Boatright and
Lynley Bernstein respectively, for example) reflect our nation’s propensity for all that is
bigger and ostensibly better!
However, a good deal of the entries addressed the basic, biological, human need to
consume in order to survive. Images of food were abundant, particularly those depicting
questionable edibles—those with little to no nutritional value—thus commenting upon the
meaninglessness and futility of our unabashed gluttony. Much of the work in this vein is
satiric and/or grotesque, further driving the point home, such as Carlo Zinzi’s wonderfully
absurd hot dog rocket, Jessica Hilvitz’s wholly unappetizing TV dinners, and Jon
Feinstein’s nauseating images of what lurks beneath our hamburger buns.
Photographs addressing man’s consumption of energy and the earth’s natural resources
also reoccurred with some regularity, signaling a common awareness and concern for
the consequences of our unbounded appetites. Brook Reynolds’ sober image of an
abandoned gas station attests to “the unavoidable end to our consumption of fossil
An array of other interpretations of the theme also made their way into my final selection,
including Jesus Jimenez’s visual articulation of the consumption of 621 calories by means
of documenting the physical trace of his running in a circle on a patch of grass
(intelligently referencing photography’s role as an indexical medium), and Ruth Adams’
startling and powerful chronicle of her battle with the consuming illness of cancer.
I very much benefited from seeing a vast range of powerful and distinct photography,
and I wish to thank all of the artists who submitted work for my review. It is your vision,
creativity, and passion which I benefit from consuming everyday.