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CONSUMPTION

to be leavers, rather than takers 

an immersive exhibition + curation of work to encourage curiosity + creativity

Consumption aims to engage the undertones of a much broader picture. In our modern world, we can easily identify our consumption; we can see the ruin, feel the chaos, we can hear the dissonance.  We are motivated to to push boundaries and generate a pause; because we believe awareness is the most vital component for collective change.  

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Our independent and immersive exhibition was an exploration of what lies at the root of this disharmony.  It’s very obvious to look out at our world and say, we over-consume material goods, many of us are unhappy, we’re abusing our planet, etc.  While these statements are true, where do they stem from?  What underlying issue is bleeding these symptoms?

The work feels like an exploration of self confrontation, a gaze into the black mirror, so to speak, a sober look at what we’re masking.

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Acknowledging first, that consuming is not the essence of who we are. We have a long prehistory of problem solving and creating within the harmony of the rest of the world. Our ancestors were not consumers. Their mere existence depended on the constant flow of problem solving and innovation. As human beings, creating is an integral part of who we are. However, in this modern age, we only assign ‘creativity’ to the academic artist, one of our culture’s most tragic barriers to entry. 

 

We have reached a different standard, one so fully immersive and all encompassing we can barely see it, and disconnect feels synonymous with normalcy.  Our systems reflect this new normal and run with it.  Addictive culture encourages us to forfeit our power, to substitute the vulnerability of creativity for passivity. 

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While we attempt to manage the sensory overload provided by our cultural demands, we are tapped out, and curiosity feels like a luxury.  Both internal and external narratives remain on autopilot, unchallenged, entire empires built upon faulty foundations.  

 

As we paused to sift through the unconscious stories we know as our foundation, the story of Eve came to the forefront. This story can be seen as the original consumption, and we intentionally forced viewers to interact with this narrative upon entering the exhibition. Eve represents one of the most impactful narratives woven into our fabric as a civilization.  This tale has dictated the iconic cycle of female shame over the last 2,000 years. The pinnacle of human sin, the shattering of paradise, all wrapped up in one tiny choice, to consume the apple.  While this story applies specifically to the lens and culture we were born into, it’s a theme that takes many forms across the world.

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Stories can mark the fate of a demographic.  We consume and perpetuate subliminal stories and narratives every day, some are fictions mistaken for truths, some hold immense power over our choices and abilities to connect with one another.

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Our exhibiting floral artist, Lori DeNicola, created an interactive floral garden upon entering. Titled 'Paradise', this portion of the installation is a nod to the purity of the world before consumption came to the forefront. Lush, evergreen promise of the world and its relationship to mankind, before it became fragmented.  Primal connection and presence, entanglement. 

As the viewer continues past the Garden of Paradise, our main hope was to provoke curiosity. Tapping back into curiosity means exploring our connection of duality and relation to the ‘other’— to the world around us, the mind and body, the ecosystems and earth, who we are as people. We must explore the concept of self, and have a solid foundation of this in order to connect to anything at all. Many works within this exhibition, including the installations, explore collective and individual experiences of what it means to be human. The complex, messy, and beautiful sides to it. These works, of course, have been created directly through the female lens. Strengthening our awareness is the greatest tool for change. 

The way we choose to interact with our physical world demonstrates the level of disconnect from the whole.  No one is exempt.

 

This begs the question: how are we interacting within our living systems?

 

In preparation for this exhibition, we combed the local beaches for trash, requested used items from within our local community, and saved our paint bottles for several months. The trash was then utilized within the exhibition as grouped sculptures paired with florals and greenery, creating tangible elements of dissonance and discord throughout the exhibition. We know silence and ignorance well within our culture, but how long can we ignore the undercurrents of disharmony that resonate quietly in our bones?  The body cannot lie as efficiently as the mind.  

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The paintings within the exhibition played to both collective and individual experiences of what it means to be 'consumed'; through matters of mental health, relationships, bodily autonomy, materialism, sensory exploration, and emotional regulation. 

 

 

“Rest Under Noise, RUN” by artist Bri Wenke is a confrontation of the self, of the inner chaos and incessant chatter that threatens to dissolve our strength and sanity.  To remain on autopilot, to feel anxiety so distinctly in the body because the mind won’t make the time.  To take a sober look at what the internal landscape feels like, holding up a black mirror, so to speak, but not without an undertone of humility.

Consumption is formatted through the exploration of the self.  We want to encourage the examination of what makes us who we are.  To deconstruct of labels and roles we take on, the way our bodies carry trauma and experiences, incessant inner chatter and compulsive thinking, and limited beliefs based on stories we’ve been told.   All of these have a subconscious effect on how we show up in the world. If we aren’t careful, we show up for each other in ways that are unintentional, numb and asleep.

'Motherwound' by artist Sam Rueter, attributes to generational trauma among women and the silent toxicity of shame. how can we further explore the interrelation between Mother and Daughter; while also not discounting the immense sacrifice and depletion both roles entail? How does this shame cycle affect the choices we make within our everyday life? 

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While constructing the many layers of Consumption, we asked dozens of friends and family to record their responses to prompts, to allow us to hear their rambling, reoccurring thoughts.  Preston Dunnavant, a local Charleston producer, created the overtone and original music score for Consumption using these ramblings, a 30 minute track titled Noise that played on a loop throughout the exhibition. It was heightened within our sensory immersion room, where we invited viewers to sit and be present with their senses. To revert back to sensory processing as children, one where we take in the world around us without obstruction.

 

Sound frequencies are crucial in the exploration of who we are. Our inner conversations stem from the unconscious mind; a constant rambling of thoughts, desires, worries, experiences. The unfiltered magnification of ego, fear, and self. 

The two sets of headphone cassettes within the exhibition were original soundtracks created by Marcus Amaker.  In a world of instant gratification and hustle, the rewinding of the cassette pairs with the intentional pause for presence-- alongside a prompt and journals to encourage vulnerability through the observation of these streams of consciousness.  We invited the viewers to interact and leave their reoccurring thoughts:

 

“do I do what makes me feel alive or what I’m expected to do?”

“I love myself but I don’t love what I’ve become”

“this is not dress rehearsal”

“get me off this hamster wheel”

“let’s go for a drive”

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As the crescendo of the exhibition, 'The Feast' is a nod to our royal life as takers, where we gather not to see and hear our true nature; but to reinforce our god-like essence of the ego. This tablescape is a seething mockery of what it means to see our culture in a heavily saturated way.  Deranged indulgences that make the viewer look twice; stitched up fruits, goblets of butter and sugar, lines of ground coffee cut with a price tag, pharmaceuticals strewn like appetizers, desserts baked with charging cables and lightbulbs, and fully nude female models.

The female form is devoured, both in private and in public.  From pornography to marketing; it’s been the most efficient propaganda strategy since Eve’s mention in the Bible.  As female artists, we must beg the question:  why the violent taboo around the female body?  Why the disconnect, and shame regarding a physicality that half of humans possess?  The female body is responsible for life, for movement, for creation, yet the knee-jerk reaction seems to be repulsion and compulsion, from minds that can only associate sex and a power struggle?

Is a woman not a human when her body is exposed?  Is she just another object on the table ripe for consumption?

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When we are able to strip back the heavy and saturated layers of sugar-coating, we find our creative source as the most basic posture, one where one can tap back into our collective heartbeat. It’s how we reclaim our selves and start from the ground up.  We can begin to reframe things from the severed and separated parts, and reconstruct them back into the whole. This is the common work for the longevity and future of the tribe.

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all photography by Nicole Mickle and Chad Savage

CONSUMPTION STATEMENT

We are not created to consume.
Where there is consumption, there is disconnect. There is ruin. There is chaos. 
Where there is consumption, there can be no curiosity.
Without curiosity, creativity is dead. 
Without creativity, our world cannot sustain.

Consuming is not the essence of who we are.
Our addictive culture allows us to forfeit our power, to substitute the vulnerability of creation for passivity. 

Our ancestors were not consumers.
Their mere existence depended on the constant flow of problem solving and innovation. They built fire in an ice age, with creativity as their life force. As human beings, creating is an integral part of who we are. 

The choice is one we make again and again.

What’s beneath the sugar-coated surface of our consumption? 

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Thank you to all of our supportive and creative contributors who made Consumption a reality.

You've helped bring our wildest vision to life, and helped stimulate important conversation.

You are vital.