David Welch: Material World
In the series ‘Material World’, fine art photographer David Welch presents contemporary society from the consumerism perspective which defines it. Taking inspiration from the Marxist concept of “Objectification”, marking “a transformative relationship between humankind and nature where individuals manifest their activities into materially existing forms”, he notices a rupture in today’s market driven and consumers inhabited reality, generated by the unequal distribution of resources and the gap between those who produce (the majority) and the ones who benefit from this process (the minority).
The photographs reveal an uncontrolled need of abundance and excess, which results in wastefulness. One cannot exist without the other. With more toys than the children can actually play with, junk food filling the table, more laundry than can fit in the washing machine, even ironically gigantic toilet paper, man produces beyond the basic needs, in overwhelming quantities, to fulfill manufactured desires, usually enforced through advertising and the media to finally respond to the interests of the few. Therefore, objectification gains a different meaning as celebrated cult of the object and basis for current life standards and – mainly economic – values.
In a world where “less is more” continues to be perceived as nonsense by many, David Welch treats everyday objects as Duchampian-inspired Assisted Readymades: “I photograph assemblages, constructed by my own hand to form monuments and totems that serve as precarious externalizations of culture and social biography. Modeling Marx’s concept, the photographs of the totems then act as symbolic mirrors, points of reflection for my own contemplative gaze and that of society’s. The photographs speak of accumulation and materiality and aim to encourage debate about consumption and the ways in which we feel compelled to consume.” And half of decade later since the 2011 series, the obsession and routine of consumption remains and we still embrace our status of consumers, at a level now influenced and shaped by technology and new opportunities to consume.
‘Shopping Totem’, 2011, Archival Pigment Print, 40″32″
‘Burger Totem’, 2011, Archival Pigment Print, 40″32″
‘Toilet Paper Totem’, 2011, Archival Pigment Print, 40″32″
‘Laundry Totem’, 2011, Archival Pigment Print, 40″32″
‘Toy Totem’, 2011, Archival Pigment Print, 40″32″
‘Beer Can Totem’, 2011, Archival Pigment Print, 40″32″
All images © David Welch. View series here.