Consumption in Photography

Continuing on the topic of culture vultuering and my recent adventures in the V&A, which is by the way the endless source of inspiration for marxism, I came across another hotshot FREE exhibition that somewhat shocked me to the core. People in fact believe that everything that’s free isn’t worth much attention because it lacks in status or importance. Who wants to see something that everybody else can see too, it basically has no worth putting on Facebook, so why bother. Ok, now minus cynicism, free exhibition on social issues are usually very eye opening, mostly because people don’t like to pay to have their eyes opened. Ignorance is a bliss.

Anyway, Consumption is a grand exhibition commissioned  by Prix Pictet founded by the Pictet Group in 2008, the Prix Pictet has rapidly established itself as the world’s leading prize in photography and sustainability. The award aims to uncover outstanding photography applied to confront the most pressing social and environmental challenges of today. ( Prix Pictet)

Many would say it’s a very exciting time to be alive. Many would also say it’s exciting time to be a white good-looking male in western part of the world. Yet I don’t think so much, taking Elliot Rodger as an example, men can have just as much shitty time as women, especially with the whole new wave of feminism openly provoking and challenging social rules dating back to paleolithic era. It’s also a wonderful time not to be born black female in Africa as we learned after seeing statistics on rape following rape summit in London earlier this year.

This was just a slight deflection from the topic. Anyway. We found so many ways to increase our productivity in everything, work places, food industry, medicine. Every aspect of our social lives are efficiently shared on social networks and we have (sort of) freedom of speech. We all know the equation of supply and demand. At this particular time of history we have surplus of man made products and deficit of natural resources. We also have so much food coming to us from all parts of the world, we no longer know what we eat and what we don’t eat we throw away. Yet while large part of western world is suffering from obesity epidemic (on the top of cancers and mental illnesses), third world countries are starving.

As Slavoj Žižek writes in his book Consumption, the food in our plate represents the triumph of marketing over content.

Consumption exhibition in V&A very accurately tells you how far we’ve gone and how disturbing it looks. As I walked past fantastic photographs by Prix Pictet prize winners – Adam Bartos, Motoyuki Daifu, Rineke Dijkstra, Hong Hao, Juan Fernando Herran, Boris Mikhailov, Abraham Oghobase, Michael Schmidt (who sadly past away on the 28th of May, 2014) Allan Sekula, Laurie Simmons, but I was especially impressed by Mishka Henners’ series of photographic prints Beef & Oil.


This image of Coronado Feeders, Dalhart, Texas pulled from Google satellite image shows what seems to appear as waste lagoon. Discussions sparked after appearing on Reddit around the colour of the lagoon. Very disturbing speculations on whether this is rouge colour is a result of animal waste or other unknown factors. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit environmental advocacy group, these lagoons often break, leak or overflow, allowing microbes from animal waste to seep into the ground and contaminate air and water supplies. Regardless of what it is or how dangerous to environment this mass is, it is pretty fucked up. Now, obviously image above is a simulated version, currently being displayed at V&A. I took a liberty to look it up on google satellite  image from this particular area and lagoon is well, red.

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 20.14.59

Next to a lagoon you can see livestock feedlots. Grim innit. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is an example where your succulent beef is coming from.

In the age of awakening and sustainability, where bullshit beliefs about food chain hierarchy are finding less and less comfort in evolutionary and scientific research around the world, many people are beginning to see the benefit of not eating animal meat. I am coming from the culture where meat was a prime source of nutrition and energy.

Having grown up just a few kilometres from cites slaughter house, I will never forget the foul smell coming from it during warm summer evenings.

Did I know what it was? Subconsciously I knew. The older I was getting, the more disturbed I was feeling. Yet vegetarianism wasn’t something the society felt comfortable with, just as anything that was unusual was treated with suspicion and loathing.

Right now it is impossible to ignore the fact that food industry is fuelled by poisonous ideologies and corporate hunger for profits. There is very little comfort believing that animals on these particular farms are being slaughtered in dignified way. Please. Eating or not eating animal meat is everybody’s personal choice however after seeing this particular exhibition I came to certain conclusions. It takes two to waltz. So far consumerism and food corporations are having a ball. Next time before you order your burger medium rare, take a second to wonder where this beef came from.


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