OMNIVORE: One Nation Undervalued
We look back. We look ahead. To our detriment, we avoid looking at what’s right in front of us. The act of witnessing can be downright uncomfortable, often fraught with the obligation of an emotional response. Overwhelmed by demands of empathy, it’s easier to overlook. Omnivore stops and carefully takes in everything.
In my ethnographical series, Hungry: The Insatiable State of America, I examined a distracted nation’s ingestion of everything in search of power, security and self-worth, with little thought of the subsequent ramifications. The corpulent images I made for that body of work mirrored the times: a vast landscape of unchecked overindulgence.
In my latest series, Omnivore: One Nation Undervalued, I continue with the theme of cultural definition through mass consumption. I make my pictures purposefully economical, impoverished by our current circumstances. Utilizing the most reductive subject matter possible, I snap the present into focus by framing the consequences of our prolonged heedlessness. Place is less important to these pictures; they could be taken anywhere; the merit is in the context which weaves our collective stories together.
In Omnivore the descriptive titles and found text convey the sad simplicity of contemporary terms that define our downfall. As a species, we are hardwired for language. Under a continual barrage of rhetoric, we tend to be swayed by the ideas we hear most often, whether or not they are the most accurate or beneficial. Using relevant words to inform images, this photo-lingual series makes an incisive statement about our present day societal behavior and cultural detritus.
I carry my camera everywhere, always hungry to take in the remnants of languished materialism. I see distraction, limitations and stagnation: public marks of lack, excess, waste and disregard. Like an archeologist I gather perceptible evidence of our communal gratifications and aversions. I never filter what I photograph; I recognize that sometimes what initially meant nothing ends up meaning more than I could ever imagine.
— Cat Gwynn