Positioned somewhere between documentary and art photography, Want More is a stark and hard-hitting portrayal of twenty-first-century capitalism in action. In a series of arresting, atmospheric and beautiful black-and-white images, London-based photographer Alex Schneideman captures the alienating, numbing and denaturing effects of mass consumerism by photographing shoppers in stores, at the mall and on the street. Despite the instant beauty of each frame, tedium, misery, anxiety, frustration and occasional anger seem to be the dominant emotions experienced by these subjects – most of whom are unaware of the photographer’s lens – as they appear ground down by their duty as drone-like consumer-citizens to spend, spend, spend.
Very few of the pictures make any reference to their location. Instead, they have a universality that extends beyond the specific time and place, reflecting the nullifying homogeneity that characterises the consumerist society itself. Confronting us with the lived reality and implications of the ‘have-it-all’ culture – of needing the latest products and the coolest brands – Want More shows us how the contemporary world works – and works on all of us.
A text considers Schneideman’s photographs as demonstrations of the social and psychological effects of boundless consumerism, and the addictive and herd-like behaviour it demands, and evidence that as we become richer, we do not necessarily become happier. A conversation with the artist considers some of the aesthetic and philosphical issues raised by the work and its place in the history of photography.
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