Real Leaders

The “It” Artist of the Green Movement

Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

Chris Jordan is a photographic artist who uses his artworks to bring awareness to a serious problem of our time – consumerism. Seen from afar his images look like modern recreations of famous masterpieces, but as soon as he approaches the viewer is confronted with thousands of photographs of waste assembled into a beautiful picture. He’s been called “the ‘it’ artist of the green movement” for his ability to send clear messages about mass consumption through beautiful images that end up disgusting the viewer.

But while he’s always been interested in photography, he studied law school and became a corporate lawyer who only dedicated his free time to his favorite hobby. His father, a businessman, had also been passionate about photography and Chris remembers he “was filled with regret” that he couldn’t practice it full time.

So, determined not to repeat his mistake, the young lawyer moved to Seattle, and quit the bar after ten years of practicing law, to dedicate his life to photography. It was definitely a risky move, but definitely an inspired one as the success of his early shows in New York and Los Angeles propelled his career.

Chris Jordan came to tackle consumerism by chance. He had taken photos of a pile of garbage and found it beautiful because of its complexity and great color, but when friends of his, who were active in consumerism, started commenting on it, he got the idea for his future projects.

Using some digital trickery, Jordan manages to assemble his unique images from tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of waste photographs. Instead of using thousands of individual pieces of garbage, he just uses a few hundred, which are photographed over and over.

It takes him a few weeks to digitally construct one of his images, but if he used individual pieces, it would probably take him a year to complete a project. Jordan recently described his work this way: “Seen from a distance, the images are like something else, maybe totally boring pieces of modern art.

On closer view, the visitor has an almost unpleasant experience with the artwork. It’s almost a magic trick; inviting people to a conversation that they didn’t want to have in the first place.”


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