Wealth. Fame. Beauty. Social status. We have a profound obsession with affluence in America — and it’s spreading. In Generation Wealth, internationally-acclaimed filmmaker and photographer Lauren Greenfield has documented the globalization of materialism, celebrity culture, and social status over the past 25 years through 195 prints, 42 interviews, and accompanying multimedia projections and short films. Located at the Annenberg Space for Photography, the exhibit is a colorful, thought-provoking exploration into our desire for more.
The featured artist, Lauren Greenfield, has been named one of the 25 most influential photographers of today by American Photo. Remember the #LikeAGirl adverts back in 2015? It challenged derogatory stereotypes about what it meant to “run like a girl,” “throw like a girl,” or “fight like a girl.” That was directed by Lauren Greenfield. Thanks to her record-breaking #LikeAGirl campaign, Greenfield swept the advertising awards in 2015, winning the 2015 Emmy, 14 Lions at the Cannes Festival of Creativity (including the Titanium Lion), 7 Clios and Best in Show at the AICP Awards. In addition, she was named “No. 1 director” and “Most Awarded Director” by AdAge. Her photographs have been widely published in many major publications, and her large-scale monographs Girl Culture, Fast Forward, and THIN have exhibited in museums and cultural institutes all over the world.
Generation Wealth is well worth a visit. I went to the exhibit last week, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. The images are vivid and depict shocking scenes often accompanied by in-depth personal interviews to add context. I highly recommend watching the short film. Initially, when I wandered through the corridors lined from top to bottom with photos, I was in disbelief that such things as described in the film and the interviews could happen. But later, as I pondered my own relationship with materialism, I realized that even I had bought into this culture in my own way. For example, I love to collect small things, like stationery and coins, and I change my phone every two or three years even if it is not broken. While my habits are subjectively milder in comparison to the obsessions of the people featured in Generation Wealth, I wondered to what extent I had internalized the wealthy ideal and whether I would be happier if I didn’t indulge in my small acts of materialism.
The exhibit is free to all and launched April 8. It will stay open until August 13, so make time to go! Hours are Wednesday – Sunday, 11 AM – 6 PM. The Anneberg Space for Photography also holds workshops, panels, portfolio reviews, and lectures, which you can attend for free or for a small fee. Visit their website to learn more: https://www.annenbergphotospace.org.