“A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand”
Broken Tool is a series of still-life photographs produced from the discarded objects in my shed. It challenges us to look at the overlooked and consider our attitudes towards consumption and consumerism.
Consumerism is the inclination to buy consumer goods and services, believing that increasing purchases of goods and services are beneficial to the economy. But everyone wants everything, so how does that work? We are bursting through the planet's physical limits that sustain us, ignoring all the warnings of a catastrophic end. These warnings include climate change, rising household and national debt, increasing energy and food prices, deforestation, poverty, conflicts, etc. Meanwhile, the piles of waste stashed away in our sheds and landfills—out of sight and mind—keep increasing and tell a story of a fragile system that will inevitably fall if we do not make drastic changes. Consumerism cannot meet the promise of private luxury for everyone: neither the physical nor the ecological space exists.
Broken Tool uses the Dutch vanitas painting style of the 17th Century to present its staged compositions. The original vanitas paintings recorded affluence, which assumes that expenditure is not a matter of morals but style. But it also warns us of our pending death and against the human weakness of indulging in earthly pleasures; much like today's luxuries, it is all vanity—waste.
Since consumption is the problem, the only meaningful response is consuming less. A reduction in consumption is something you and I can bring about without the need for conferences, pledges or policy change.