Quote Page :: Intolerable Beauty

Photographs by Chris Jordan from his series, Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption.

Cell phones #2, Atlanta.
From Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption.
Photo by Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan
Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption

Jordan's photographs focus on the detritus of American consumer society. His images have been exhibited widely in the U.S. and Europe, and featured in publications all over the world. His most recent book is In Katrina's Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster. www.chrisjordan.com

Artist's Statement

Exploring around our country’s shipping ports and industrial yards, where the accumulated detritus of our consumption is exposed to view like eroded layers in the Grand Canyon, I find evidence of a slow-motion apocalypse in progress. I am appalled by these scenes, and yet also drawn into them with awe and fascination. The immense scale of our consumption can appear desolate, macabre, oddly comical and ironic, and even darkly beautiful; for me its consistent feature is a staggering complexity.

The pervasiveness of our consumerism holds a seductive kind of mob mentality. Collectively we are committing a vast and unsustainable act of taking, but we each are anonymous and no one is in charge or accountable for the consequences. I fear that in this process we are doing irreparable harm to our planet and to our individual spirits.

As an American consumer myself, I am in no position to finger wag; but I do know that when we reflect on a difficult question in the absence of an answer, our attention can turn inward, and in that space may exist the possibility of some evolution of thought or action. So my hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry. It may not be the most comfortable terrain, but I have heard it said that in risking self-awareness, at least we know that we are awake.

Chris Jordan

Car Junkyard, Vancouver, Washington.
From Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption. Photo by Chris Jordan

Car Junkyard Vancouver, Washington. Intolerable Beauty series. Photo by Chris Jordan

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